Conditioning and Counter Conditioning

18 May
  1.  Conditioning

Where the behaviour of an animal is modified by learning that a specific stimulus requires a certain response is known as conditioning. In other words, when a human gives a visual or verbal command, the dog would learn to respond in a particular way, or move into a certain position. For example, the dog could learn to assume a sitting position and a relaxed state of mind when the owner clicks his/her fingers and points at the dog, if this is what it has been conditioned to do. This particular stimulus/response is something I myself have conditioned my own puppy to do. Reinforces are often used in order to aid this method of behavioural modification as a reward for carrying out the desired behaviour.

      Counter conditioning

Counter conditioning could be considered to be the opposite of conditioning. This type of behaviour modification is used when the dog responds to a stimulus is a way that is considered to be undesirable by the owner. For example, when the doorbell rings it might bark excessively or run around the house in an excitable or fearful manner. Counter conditioning involves learning in order to replace the unacceptable behaviour with one that is desirable. Like with condition, reinforcement is used to reward the acceptable/desired behaviour. In this instance the dog should realise or learn that it is not able to react negatively. During this process it eventually associates the reward with the stimulus and the unacceptable behaviour is no longer carried out. A dog that does not like the sound of the doorbell and reacts inappropriately by running around and barking might benefit from counter conditioning, by teaching the dog to associate the doorbell with something positive i.e. the reward and therefore teaching it to react in a way that is deemed acceptable.



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