Jump Starting Counter Conditioning

What happens when you can’t get started with counter conditioning?  Let’s face it, – it is just not always possible to keep a dog “under threshold”.  Stuff happens unexpectedly.  The requirements of daily life mean sometimes the dog has to go in the car, even when he’s afraid of car rides;  we have to get a leash on a dog even if she doesn’t want us to approach her or a dog appears out of the blue on a walk and can’t be immediately avoided.

One reason why avoidance behaviors are so hard to overcome is that by repeating them, the dog doesn’t learn that NOT avoiding doesn’t cause anything bad to happen. Is being fearful stressful?  We think so.  So what if we could help the dog become less fearful sooner?  That would be a good thing for sure!

That’s the value of response prevention, when used correctly and combined with counter conditioning.

Obviously we wouldn’t do something that would cause a dog to panic.  But a few seconds of response prevention followed by treats and other good things that the dog can quickly enjoy can circumvent continued expression of the fearful avoidance response that can happen close to or just above threshold.

That’s exactly what happened with a wonderful little dog we are caring for.  We became good friends in less than 24 hours, and response prevention helped us accomplish that.

Check out the video below.

Learn more about response prevention from our CAABChat with Dr. Peter Borchelt and Ms Nancy Williams.  Click HERE to purchase.

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