Our lovely and knowledgeable guest I have had a pleasure to work with and will continue in the future.
Counter conditioning is when you are teaching your dog to associate something not so pleasant with something pleasant. For example, the sound of the doorbell MUST predict a treat or playing with toys (something that your dog absolutely LOVES). Treats have to be given in the next instant ( you got to be super quick) and not one minute after. So IMMEDIATELY AFTER the trigger. Reinforcement must be something that your dog is absolutely crazy about and that is what you will use for positive pairing. You will reinforce for IMMEDIATELY AFTER the dog has spotted the trigger, as the trigger is coming closer, and after the trigger is leaving. As soon as the trigger leaves you are also stopping the treats. As I say to all my clients – your dog doesn’t have to sit or stay or lie down. As long as he or she learns that scary thing is not scary and is paired with something positive your job is accomplished. If your dog sits naturally as the not so great thing is happening, that’s GREAT! But it is NOT a requirement. Depends on what the scary thing is and based on that you might use gradual exposure and counter conditioning together.
Things to keep in mind:
1. Start at a distance where your dogs feels safe at and sees the trigger
2. If your dog reacts, that means he or she is close to the trigger
3. Have extremely high value treats. Treats are given as soon as the trigger is seen and until trigger is in view.
4. Watch your dog’s body language. Your dog will tell you if he is uncomfortable.
5. Don’t over do it with training. Start with short amount of time and slowly increase time and duration. End your training session on positive note.
6. Take a deep breath.
8. No leash pulling and leash tightening when you see other dogs. No yelling. No leash lag. Turn around and move forward to a safe distance.
9. Position yourself in between your dog and the trigger. Your dog will feel safer that way when practicing counter conditioning.