orange county

Counter conditioning canine behavior

counter conditioning

Counter - something that is opposite or contrary to something else.  

Conditioning - a process of changing behavior by rewarding a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure.  

Counter conditioning is a highly effective way to alter a dog's response.  It is commonly used to change how a dog reacts to a specific stimulus by changing the meaning of it.  

Example:  Your dog is terrified by the vacuum cleaner.  Every time you try to vacuum your dog runs for the hills, hides under the bed or behind the couch.  

Like most rehabilitation type behavior modification, baby steps in progression should be used to best facilitate success.  Depending on your dog's response you may want to start by just bringing the vacuum out of the closet or just open the vacuum cleaner closet.  Then link an enjoyable activity to it.  Maybe the closet door opens and you pull out your dog's leash.  Maybe it  means feeding time or time to play catch.  

This should be done until you are seeing a positive response from your dog.  Next would be to pull out the vacuum and create the same activity - feeding, playing, walking. etc.  

The goal would be - each time you pull out the vacuum, your dog associates it with something wonderful.  You start small and slow, only moving on to more intense work with complete success at each stage.  

Like desensitizing, counter conditioning is about association.  Counter conditioning is typically used to re-associate the stimulus that causes a fearful or stressful response.  It is on e of  most useful tools in positive behavior modification.  


Frustration in dog training


Every person is an individual; every dog is an individual.  

Individual - a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.

This reason alone is why dog trainers need to be very flexible in the training approach.  There is no one size fits all when training individual dogs.  Knowing how a dog reacts to stimulus is very important when working towards a positive training session.  

I am an instant gratification type person.  Not that I need reward instantly but when working on a project, I don't like the finished result being weeks or months out.  Which is why I love digital photography so much; snap an image, plug it into your computer, presto!

Some dogs need rewards or success more often.  I have seen dogs being trained who become frustrated when they don't succeed fast enough.  They may even shut down, cease working at all as they have given up.  So what does frustration look like?  

  • walking away
  • barking at you
  • stress triggered behaviors like yawning
  • quickly offering other already known behaviors
  • shutting down

If  your dog becomes frustrated easily; breaking a behavior down into tiny baby steps can help to eliminate this.  Some dogs need such tiny steps and constant positive feedback that you may need to pre-plan your behavior lessen.  Sitting down and figuring out the steps needed to get to the final behavior should be thought out.  

Some dogs will "get" the whole behavior taught at once; but many need it to be broken down to avoid frustration in the learning process.  Neither  is better or smarter than the other.   The success lies in the trainer knowing how to teach the dog.  The ability to see a dog struggling is so very crucial to happy and successful training.  

Dog training, Orange County, CA

Laguna Beach, ca

Laguna Beach, ca

I'm super excited.  Yep, I'm training again; the hands on fun stuff that I love.  I've been a dog trainer in South Orange County, CA for a long time but took a much needed break a while back to catch my breath and write some books.  Books are done, breath caught, sort of and we're back at it.  

Training and behavior is in my blood.  Even though I took a break from the hands on stuff I never stopped working.  I am constantly studying dog behavior both in the form of books, courses and live studies.  There isn't much more interesting research than watching dogs interact with other dogs and people for me.  I could literally watch and study 24/7.

My training focuses on a well behaved dog; whether it is a young puppy or uneducated older dog.  That means I come to your home where the work should be done.  Your home, your dog, your very personalized program.  I specialize in new puppies who come with lots of natural dog behaviors that we don't always appreciate as humans.  So work starts right away, as soon as that puppy joins your family.  

All training is done in a positive manner; no yank and choke type training EVER at Just Dogs.  This makes training more fun for everyone involved.  You will learn how dogs think and learn and how best to ensure a great connection and bond.  The whole family is invited to work and learn how to interact with your dog so that everyone is on the same page.

We have one time new puppy visits, house training specific, full course training and many more options.  Even if you are just thinking about getting a dog, I can help with that too.  

If you have a puppy or dog who needs an education, call or email me and I will show you how to train your dog.  Contact me now. 

Serving South Orange County, CA

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