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Counter Conditioning or desensitising in Dog Training

In the realm of dog training, counter conditioning or desensitising stands out as a pivotal technique, particularly for mitigating undesirable behaviours in our canine companions. 

Understanding Counter Conditioning

At its core, counter conditioning is about transforming a dog’s negative reaction to a particular stimulus into a positive one. It’s akin to replacing a dog’s unpleasant memories with favourable ones. For instance, if a dog exhibits fear towards loud noises, counter conditioning could involve playing a recording of such noises at a low volume while simultaneously offering the dog a treat. This process helps the dog associate the previously frightening noise with a positive experience.

Implementing Counter Conditioning

Implementing counter conditioning involves several crucial steps:

  • Identifying the Trigger: The first step is to pinpoint what specifically triggers the dog’s adverse reaction.
  • Creating Positive Associations: Use treats, toys, or other positive reinforcements to cultivate a favourable response to the identified trigger.
  • Gradual Exposure: Incrementally increase the dog’s exposure to the trigger while maintaining the positive association. This might involve slowly increasing the volume of the noise in the earlier example while continuing to offer treats.
  • Consistent Practice: Regular training sessions are essential. They should be kept short to ensure they remain a positive experience for the dog.

Tips for Successful Counter Conditioning

  • Consistency is key. Inconsistent training can confuse the dog and impede progress.
  • Training sessions should be brief and enjoyable to prevent the dog from becoming stressed or bored.
  • It’s crucial to observe the dog’s reaction closely and adjust the intensity of the exposure accordingly. This ensures that the dog is not overwhelmed.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Trainers often make a few common errors in counter conditioning:

  • Progressing too quickly, which can overwhelm the dog.
  • Inconsistent training sessions, which can hinder the dog’s learning process.
  • Failing to observe the dog’s stress levels, potentially exacerbating the negative reaction.

Counter conditioning is a powerful tool in the dog trainer’s arsenal, particularly effective in altering negative behavioural patterns. However, it demands patience, consistency, and a keen understanding of the dog’s emotional responses. For trainers in Australia, mastering this technique can significantly enhance their training effectiveness, leading to happier, well-adjusted dogs.

Contact Information for Further Assistance

For more information or specific guidance, trainers are encouraged to reach out to professional dog training services like Jordan Dog Training.

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Justin Jordan Trainer

Justin Jordan

Master Trainer

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Phone (07) 3264 8180      Mobile: 0422 600 774       Email: justin@jordandogtraining.com.au