Counter Classical or Counter Operant?

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My last post started a good discussion about the use of the term "counter conditioning," (and its use in treating Separation Anxiety) and one of the comments in particular reminded me that the term is often used differently by different people. For years I've always specified "counter classical conditioning" when talking about treatment for SA, for example, when one links something that elicits a positive emotion (like food) with something that elicits a negative one (like fear). But I noticed I've started being lazy and using the term "counter conditioning" when I mean counter classical conditioning. I suspect that's because I don't tend to use the term "counter operant conditioning." Rather, I talk about "training an incompatible behavior" which is basically the same thing. So, to be Read More

New Info about Treatment for SA? Yes and No.

Willie 2 snow blue KM

A study came out recently in Applied Animal  Behavior Science that suggests that Counter Conditioning (CC)  is not an effective way to treat Separation Anxiety. Since I've been advising the use of this method for many years, my ears pricked up in hopes I'd learn something important about how better to treat this serious behavioral problem.  The study, by Butler, Sargisson & Eliffe, concluded that Desensitizing (DS) was the successful element in the treatment of SA in the 8 dogs in the study, while CC and "behavioral advice" was not. We got the article, and I read through it carefully. And then I read it again. And yup, one more time. And then I emailed some of my colleagues and asked "Am I crazy?" I thought I might be losing my mind because try as I might, I could not match the Read More

Leaving on a Trip — without the dogs

sunrise 11-2010

A reader asked if I'd go through what I do to prepare for a trip when I can't take my dogs along. I thought it was a good question for all of us, and a lead in to what could be a fruitful discussion. After all, leaving one's dog(s) is hard, and the only way I can do it myself without being a wreck is to have a system in which I feel like I've covered as many bases as I can. Here are some of my tips, I'd love to hear yours: 1. Put a big-lettered note by the phone that says YOU ARE HERE and give the address and phone number of your home. House sitters rarely can spit out your address in a crisis, and that's when they need it the most. 2. Also by the phone, leave EMERGENCY phone numbers for your usual vet (who you've called to approve any charges in advance) and if need be, an Emergency Read More