by Eileen Anderson
What do the following training descriptions have in common?
- “My dog’s afraid of strangers. But when she stops barking and makes eye contact with me, I give her a treat.”
- “I hold her foot. Then I give her a treat after I clip each toenail, as long as she stays in place and doesn’t pull her foot away.”
- “When we have guests, I wait for him to show some calm behavior like stretching, breathing more deeply, or lying down. Then I give him a treat.”
- “We play LAT (Look At That). I say ‘Look at the dog’ and she does. I mark, then give her a treat.”((Leslie McDevitt first described the Look at That game under that name in her book Control Unleashed. She also includes a classical conditioning protocol by the name of Open Bar/Closed Bar in the book.))
- “When the cyclists go by, I cue my dog to sit, then I treat.”
These are all training methods designed to help a dog cope with something uncomfortable, undesired, or scary. But they are not classical conditioning.
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