Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3)

Basic Graduation 2-14-12

Last week I described the counter-condition and desensitization process (CC&DS). When is it the right approach, as opposed to addressing a problem with reward-based training?

Deciding that an association is causing your dog to behave a certain way means making assumptions about what is going on "inside" the dog. These kinds of assumptions are not always right. As a matter of fact, these kinds of assumptions are what can lead to describing a dog as stubborn, dumb, or even the dreaded (and horribly misused) "dominant." Which is not a personality attribute dammit. But I digress…

With the understanding that we are making judgements based on our dog’s body language and behavior there is a general rule we can follow. We use CC&DS to change an undesirable response to a stimulus that seems to be driven by a negative reaction to the stimulus. Let’s consider three possible responses to a human stranger approaching a dog:

  1. The dog attempts to escape.
  2. The dog lunges, growls, barks, in what we would characterize as an aggressive manner.
  3. The dog attempts to jump up and greet the person.

In numbers one and two the dog’s reaction is negative. Both reactions are likely driven by fear. In number three his reaction is positive – he is happy to see the person and wants to greet them, albeit in an inappropriate manner.

We need to change the emotional response in scenarios one and two. A dog that is attempting to flee or attack cannot be taught to greet someone politely, and even if it were possible, he would probably still be distressed. We want to make him more comfortable. This is job for CC&DS.

In scenario three the dog is happy to see people! We certainly don’t want to change that. We have a training problem: we need to teach him how to greet people politely.

In situations where we need to make something "bad" become something "good" (or at least a lot less bad) we use CC&DS. In a situation where something is already good but the response is what is "bad" we use training.

That’s it for CC&DS in this series. Next week we move on to a new chapter in the ABC’s.

But before we move on, here’s a cute video illustrating how classical conditioning works. I wish I had found it when I started this series.

Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3) is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


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Is there any way to relieve my puppy from mange/intense scratching because of it?

Question by lia: Is there any way to relieve my puppy from mange/intense scratching because of it?
My puppy is 3 months old and is infected with Sarcoptic mange. The vet has been treating her for 3 weeks now, although she’s a little better, she still whines and cries when she scratches. It breaks my heart to see her like this.

Best answer:

Answer by Karenlouise
Antibiotics
One potential course of treatment for mange is antibiotics. These are to be applied topically to the affected area. While this won’t get rid of the mange, per se, it will help to reduce infection and inflammation caused by the mange. If patches of hairless skin are red or swollen, an antibiotic is a good way to speed healing.
Insecticide
In some causes, a mild insecticide can be used on mange. There are special formulations made specifically for dogs that are safe for your pup and kill the mites. One such example is Rotenone, which is contained in shampoos or creams and often helps to speed up hair growth.
Mitaban
Using a substance called amitraz, or Mitaban, can help significantly to treat mange when it has spread all over your dog’s body. Only puppies over four months old can be treated with this monoamine oxidase inhibitor and will likely require the cutting or shaving of fur in the affected areas.
Anti-Parasitics
Another treatment option is the use of an anti-parasitic drug like Interceptor. This drug is taken orally and is intended to help reduce the number or mange outbreaks. This is only recommended for mange treatment if your puppy experiences regular mite infestations.
Dog’s Itchy Skin? www.PoochandMutt.com/BionicBiotic
Why Your Dog Itches + How To Treat. Vet recommended supplement.

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Is “No Kill Mondays” a Practical Action, or a Publicity Ploy?

I think that we can take it as a given that we all want to see fewer dogs killed, especially in shelters. If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know that we’re big advocates of people adopting from shelters instead of buying a dog from the local pet store or breeder. We especially love groups that help rescue and adopt out the dogs that usually get passed over, such as our beloved Muttville.

All that being said, I have to confess to a certain skepticism about the No Kill Mondays program being promoted by a nonprofit called Animals Vote.

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Mondays seem even harsher when you’re scheduled to be put down. But is being euthanized on Tuesday all that much better? Stray dogs in the shelter by Shutterstock.

The name says it all: Animals Vote has assembled a list of 2,500 shelters across the country that euthanize animals, and are asking them to pledge that every Monday from now on will be a no-kill day. At first glance, that looks great. How could anyone who cares for animals be against shelters promising not to kill them?

The thing is that I've gone over Animals Vote's press release several times with a careful (albeit slightly jaded), and I can't see how No Kill Mondays does anything beyond providing some empty symbolism while allowing Animals Vote to posture righteously.

While it might be great that shelters wouldn't be euthanizing animals on Monday, they can (and will) take up the slack on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. In other words, committing to the No Kill Monday program is actually a promise to do some bureaucratic shuffling, rather than to make any actual change in policy. Dogs and cats would still die, but they'd do it a day or two later.

I think it would be great to see no-kill shelters to become the rule, rather than the exception. But to do that requires a lot of changes. It requires that shelters get the material support they need in order to house, feed, and humanely care for large numbers of animals without killing them. It requires that the public start thinking of shelters as a primary source for a new pet, rather than the place you go when you can't afford to drop cash at a breeder or a pet store. It requires that owners themselves become a lot more educated about how to take care of their pet so that they don't wind up lingering in a shelter to begin with.

One big first step towards reducing shelter populations would be if microchips were to become a holy sacrament of all pet owners. And it would help a lot, too, if people were willing to adopt older or disabled dogs, rather than thinking of cute, adorable puppies as the gold standard. Once again, this brings me back to the fantastic work that Muttville does.

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A solution to euthanization needs to be more than just shuffling dates and papers. Business archive in folders by Shutterstock.

To their credit, Animals Vote admits that this is only the first step of a solution. Their press release calls ending euthanasia "a complex issue," and claims "the initiative will bring forth a national conversation around peaceful methods of managing homeless pets." However, they also claim that "AnimalsVote.org has put forth a multi-stage program enumerated in a series of articles, titled 'The Three Laws.' In combination, the changes espoused will end killing with minimal budgetary impact."

What are The Three Laws? I have no idea. You see, you're not allowed to read articles or comments on their site unless you register on the site. That brings me to another reason that my spidey-sense tingles like a four-alarm fire around the No Kill Mondays program. In order to find out what Animals Vote's ideas for practical action are, or to read their agenda in depth, I have to give them my personal info.

It's one thing when a for-profit site like The New York Times demands you sign up to read their articles. Their content is there primarily to make money. But when you're a nonprofit, getting the ideas in those articles out into the real world is pretty much your reason for existing. Making your potential readers turn over their info just seems shady. At this point, I know little about about Animals Vote beyond what I could glean from their About page, their press release, and Twitter.

In the last few decades, there have been some remarkable steps made in reducing the number of animals killed in shelters. No-kill shelters, while not quite the default, are no longer considered an oddity. And an increasing number of cities are officially banning the sale of dogs from puppy mills. Even so, there are still far too many dogs and cats who are put down every year. When we take action to reduce those numbers, we have to make sure that what we do counts in the long run, instead of giving animals a 24-hour reprieve.

What do you think? Would the No Kill Mondays program achieve anything real? Or is it just good public relations for shelters who keep on euthanizing?

Via Animals Vote and PRNewswire


The Scoop | The Scoop

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Merry Christmas from Chuck Norris, the clever world of CGI and…

… the Poodles, the dogs, the cat and Jan Words by Shakespeare Music by Enya If the video doesnt play, click here.
The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Pile of fleas! Nice infestation.

I don’t know if these are fleas or not. Found them in my basement. The cat was playing with them…There must be 50000 or so. Never seen anything like it. M…

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Wishing Everyone a Very Happy Holiday!

On Wednesday, we’re stepping away from the computer to enjoy some family time, a long dog walk, and the joy of the holidays. We want to wish all of you a very happy holiday and to thank you for…



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DogTipper

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Adoptable Dog of the Day: Lacey in Alabama

Lacey is an adult female Australian Shepherd & Labrador Retriever mix currently in the care of The Animal Shelter (Calhoun County Humane Society) in Anniston, AL. Lacey is a sweet dog who loves…



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DogTipper

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Before and After Lime Dip Treatment: Cat Rescued With Sarcoptic Mange

I found this cat with mange. Because no rescues would take her in, I decided to treat her myself with Sulfur Lime Dip. She has been dipped 6 times. If any on…
Video Rating: 5 / 5

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Bob Evans is Getting it Right on Veterans Day! ~ #FREE AYCE Hotcakes!!

CELEBRATE VETERANS DAY

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LoveMy2Dogs

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Dog rules for house guests

THE RULES: 1. Do not expect that they will put me outside during your visit. 2. My house. My fur. My dander. If you have allergies, take a pill or stay home. 3. If you don’t want hair on your clothes, don’t sit on the “fur”-niture. 4. My ears and tail are not toys for your children. 5. We abide by the 1 second rule in this house. Anything dropped on the floor is mine…
The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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