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 clear, Classical Conditioning has nothing to do with training a particular behavior. It is a way of linking and emotion with a stimulus (bell = feel good like you do when you smell food, or “Her getting her keys makes me happy cuz when she does I’ll get LIVER!). Operant Conditioning is about reinforcing a behavior (“If I sit and stay I’ll get LIVER!).
Regretably, none of this fixes the messy methods in the study I talked about in the last post, in which dogs were given (among other things) food when the owner was about to leave and food when they returned. That’s just about the opposite of anything I’d suggest–the whole idea is to make “leaving good” and “coming home boring.” But still, it’s important to know what we’re all talking about when we’re talking, hey?
MEANWHILE, back on the farm, there’s a lot of conditioning, both operant and classical going on. 18 inches of snow + 40 mile an hour winds + 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit elicit a range of emotions, from awe to fear to the peace that comes when there’s just not a darn thing you can do but settle in, stop worrying about whether you’ll make it out (you won’t), and accept that you’re but a tiny little speck in the universe. But the sheep need feeding, and Willie and I shouldered our way to the barn (well, he “shouldered,” I “kneed”). Until Jim shoveled a path for them to their hay feeders this morning, I fed them inside the barn because the drifts were so high they couldn’t get out.
Here’s Spot and Truffles looking over one of the drifts after the snow stopped (and yes, it really was that high).
And, with fears you are absolutely sick to death of “Willie and Flying Disc and Snow,” here’s another one. It gives you a good idea of the snow depth in an area in which there was no drifting.
We’re supposed to fly out tonight for Austin, so cross your paws. We have to fly through O’Hare, not the smoothest of airports in the best of times (understatement alert). It’s been closed for 2 days so it’s going to be crazy anyway, AND this is prime time for Green Bay Packer fans to fly from the Midwest to Texas. I’m sure we’ll make it for my first speech at Lake Austin Spa tomorrow night, but it’d be nice if we could manage some “spa-ness” beforehand. Meanwhile, I know many in the U.S. are struggling with ice (much, much worse than snow) and a lack of power. Stay warm and safe, I hope things improve soon.
Bonnie H. says
Don’t think I’ll ever get sick of seeing Willie in the snow with his flying disc. His snow-covered face is adorable!
You could post multiple pictures of Wille and flying discs every day and I would never be sick of them. The photo in the previous post is absolutely amazing. I wish I had a picture like that of of my dog. You and your assistant might have to start a new business. I think most people would agree. If not, then they can disregard them. Keep posting!
Maery Rose says
Love that last photo! I have several similar ones of my own dog.
You are going to be in Austin??? How did I miss it? Will you be attending a seminar/conference? Too late to register?
Mary Beth says
Good luck with your flights! And yes, snow is much better than ice! With snow I’d be riding my baby horse(so much fun in deep snow!) and the horses would be playing. Instead they are tearing up the gates in my barn and the 27 yo head butted me over grain yesterday(he soooo knows better!) Surprisingly the dogs are managing to hold their balance on the ice. The horses not so much. The dogs are turning in to wonderful assistance animals by patiently heeling and balancing me on the ice.
I am so grateful I have a puppy. The puppy entertains the 2 year old and the 3 1/2 year old and us humans and the old dogs get to have peace. I never thought a puppy would actually reduce work, but he has. No cabin fever when you’ve got a four month old busy at play and an agility tunnel set up in your living room!
I hope your lambs and Willie do well while you’re gone. I worry so much traveling in the winter about the stock back at home.
No, never fear about pictures Willie, made me laugh. My own big black lab, which look more like a powdered donut every winter, got me up at 4 am the night of the storm here in Michigan. He wanted to go out to go to the bathroom. As soon as he seen the snow he was running and jumping and making it flay all over. Of course it was 4 in the morning and I wasn’t quite in the mood nor dressed for playing in the snow. Much to his dismay he had to come back in and go back to bed.
Dena (Izzee's Mom) says
I hope you make it safely to Austin, and without too much hassle. I don’t think I could ever get tired of Willie pictures, in the snow or anywhere.
Melanie S says
How could one possibly get sick of seeing such great pics of snowy Willy and his disc?! Love it!
That much snow is kinda hard to fathom over here, we’re still well entrenched in the hottest week of summer and it looks like it’s gonna be a record breaking consistent-high-temperature week. Predicted to be 41degrees C tomorrow and it was 42 earlier in the week.
Absolutely not tired of pics of Wille, and ohmygosh I LOVE this one!!!
Speaking at Lake Austin Spa, not too late to come! I speak Friday night and two times on Saturday. Altho… I should be there by now, but all planes cancelled today and tomorrow to Austin from Chicago, so Jim and I just drove 5 hours to Minneapolis, fly from there to Austin tomorrow. We hope.
I love the sugar-frosted Dog photos, too!
Good luck and keep safe on your journey – now that is dedication!
Wendy W says
Trisha – you’ll love the TV news reports down here in Texas. Currently, the special extended news coverage is focused on the Artic Blast that is “hitting” Houston. Most everyone was told to stay home from work today, and the little bit of freezing rain that accumulated on overpasses, cars and trees is now happily melting away. Therefore, I’ll ask that you continue to post your wonderful pictures of Willie/snow/disks, because they might be the only real images of winter we get to see down here!!! Hope you have a great time in Austin.
Susan Mann says
Love pics, sorry I can’t hear you speak, may make it to Clicker Expo in Chicago. Have fun in TX!
With regards to counter conditioning, just the additional clarification that often when doing operant counter-conditioning, a “side effect” is classical counterconditioning. This is one reason the LAT exercise works so well- dog is learning to do a behavior AND learning that seeing a trigger results in good things happening.
Liza Lundell says
Also love the pix of Willie and his disc in the snow. The basenjis are well wrapped up in coats for their quick potty walks, and they pull the whole way home. If asked, I think they’d say they could hold it ’til June. And we only had a couple of inches of snow.
Ah, wish we had snow! Instead we have about a foot of old + new snow with an inch and a half of ice on top. The Corgis can walk, Legolas-like, on the surface. But us? No such luck. We slide along the top for a little while, then crash through, then slide along again. We managed a good walk yesterday with ice cleats on, but now we got some rain and the stuff is impassable. So we were stuck walking the dogs on the road, which meant washing off their bellies afterwords. Not nearly as much fun as last week (pre-ice) when we walked in the snow through the woods.
Given we’ve just had our hottest night on record after a week of temperatures in the high 30s (Celsius), this notion of the whole landscape buried under a good deal of snow is even more alien to me than usual! I was commenting along these lines to my partner, who spent a winter in Montreal once. He said it’s a way of life and they have all the Snow Removing Equipment they need. SRE, he says. This winter we are planning to take our Nordic herders to the snow. This is not going to be easy, but looking at Will’s snowy face, probably worth it!
We are supposedly getting a cool change today. I am watching the radar and counting down.
Your images look very familiar! Yesterday I put on my snowshoes and beat down a wider path from shed to porch to shed to woodpile, with The Amazing Flying Burrowing SnowMaster Dog cavorting fore and aft throughout the process. Then I collected every vessel in the house to catch the dripping of the ice dams, plopping inside the windowframes on the north wall of my house. One foot in front of the other…
Have a safe and pleasant journey!
Pix of Willie are great. I have used a couple as background on a computer or two.
You said: the whole idea is to make
Kerry L. says
I’ll never get sick of photos of Willie in the snow – never!
I love Willie’s face covered with snow 🙂 Thank you for posting them. They make me smile: some pet therapy through the pc is always good.
You state that classical conditioning has nothing to do with training a particular behavior. Au contraire, it is in fact the altering of the ability of a previously neutral stimulus to elicit a reflex or respondent behavior (e.g., salivation, eye blinks, knee jerks, and many others) by pairing it with the stimulus that does so without any training (the unconditioned stimulus).