Counter conditioning

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Kimlie
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Counter conditioning

Post by Kimlie » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:58 am

Hi guys! I was wondering if I could get your view on this:

I have started an unofficial group on Facebook for training on walking by other dogs on walks.
Just hours after starting the group, over 50 people have joined, and
they just keep coming! :)

I have had success using engage/disengage games like this:

1 Looks at dog -> click -> look at me -> treat
2 Looks at dog -> look at me -> click -> treat

Combined with huge distances that we closed over time, we can now walk by any dog, and
he automatically is more and more desensitized.
(if I use kibble which is low value to him, he "outsmarts" me and doesn't even bother to look
at the dogs :lol: )

This was originally what I wanted the group to do on our training sessions, but I encountered
this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PhqFdaNduo

The video says NOT to treat when dog looks at me while counter conditioning, which also
sounds very logical, but I am confused now since you obviously can't do both ways at the same
time.

jacksdad
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by jacksdad » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:10 pm

very, very easy to get confused what all these terms mean, when to use the etc, etc, etc.

First...
The field of study that explores them is of course psychology and it's "sub field" is Applied Behavior Analysis. so if you truly want to know the science behind terms like Operant Conditioning, Classical Conditioning, Conditioned Emotional Response, DRI etc, that get used in dog train regardless if you realize it or not or even if you know the terms or not...that is the direction I would suggest studying.

if you are willing to invest in resources such as Paul Chances book,

https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Behavio ... e+behavior

you will get a very accessible introduction to the science behind what we do in dog training. try buying used though.

Two of the best resources I know of at this time to learn about Classical Conditioning come from Cathy Sdao, who is an ACAAB ( a VERY impressive certification http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org/we ... r-caab.php) and former marine mammal trainer.

https://www.tawzerdog.com/programs/does ... ing-a-bell
https://www.tawzerdog.com/programs/cujo-meets-pavlov

so there are some resources if you really want to dig into this.

Second...the short as possible version.

Counter Conditioning.

The short explanation is you are replacing an existing conditioned response to something. for example, dog is scared of other dogs and will display the fear behaviors even if a dog isn't visually around but the sound of leash/collar/tags jingling can be heard. the jingle sound predicts other dogs triggering the anticipation of the dog followed by the fear. same idea with just the sight...see other dog...because of history of bad experiences it triggers the fear and fight or flight responses. Door bells ringing or knocks at the door that trigger barking and or excitement are another example of conditioned emotional responses (aka CER).

we can change (counter condition) what those "triggers" (sight of dog, sound of jingle, knock/ring at the door) predict which changes the CER and thus change the dogs emotional response to them.

Classical Conditioning.
Classical Conditioning is about associating something that has no value or meaning with something that does. the all time best known example is Pavlov's dogs. the sound of the bell predicted the coming of food, which triggered automatic responses in the dogs...drooling. But we can use the same science to counter existing conditioning...hence again the term "counter conditioning". A common misconception is that clickers or markers are involved...they are NOT. if you are clicking/marking you are NOT using Classical Conditioning.

If we are using Classical Conditioning something "out there" MUST predict the food. If you are working with a dog who is fearful, the appearance of the other dog(s) is what makes the food happen. we can never truly KNOW if/when our dogs actually see/notice/become aware of the other dog, but we can make very educated guesses based on the fearful dogs observable behaviors. ears prick up and orientate to the other dog. dog turns and looks in the direction of other dog. Body goes stiff. weight shifts from neutral to forward on the front legs or backwards on the back legs. Tail goes up like a flag pole or gets super tucked. hair goes up on their neck and back. you might hear chuff or growls coming from the fearful dog. their paws might sweat, they might "hold" their breath. mouth becomes tight and closed etc, etc. there are lots of cues the fearful dog has become aware of the other dog.

When the fearful dog has become aware...we deliver food with in 1 second to 1.5 second. we don't worry if the fearful dog is looking at us, siting, standing, laying down, rolling over, doing spins etc. all we care is that fearful dog has shown signs of awareness of the other dog...THEN THE FOOD FLOWS. we even give the food if the fearful dog barks, growls, chuffs, lunges etc.

Why do we give food even if the dog barks, growls, chugs, lunges...because this entire exercise is about the OTHER DOG making the food happen. Classical Conditioning is about linking the appearance of scary to the flowing of SUPER YUMMY FOOD. There is more to this, but first lets talk about another concept.

Desensitization.

This is about exposing our fearful dogs to whatever scares them in as low intensity as possible, but yet for them to still show smallest amount of awareness of scary BUT NOT start barking, chuffing, growling, lunging etc. when this happens, we have made a mistake. we got too close or let scary get too close. we take this information and do better next time. the goal is for the dog to NOT have a fearful or anxiety based reaction yet still be aware of the scary thing...other dogs. it may look like "nothing" is happening...but in reality this is where the learning is actually happening.

there are two ways Classical Conditioning works.

1. in the case of dog fearful dogs... "scary" dog appears.... one thousand and one.... start reaching for for and delivering food so that from awareness to arrive of SUPER YUMMY food is about 1.5 second max. a little longer is ok but you want to average about 1.5. once past this point food can be as fast as you can deliver in the early stages and STOPS once scared dog can't see scary dog any more or has lost interest in scary dog. starts all over again with the next appearance of "scary dog"...one thousand and one...start reach for food... and so on.

2. scary dog and food happen at the same time.

those are the ONLY two ways it will work.

common mistakes are making the food dependent on something the scared dog does. delivering food out of order. not using super yummy attention getting food. not waiting for reasonable indications that scared dog is aware of scary dog. getting too close to scary so that fearful dog has a reaction. And being tooo stingy with the food.

The goal is to achieve a change in the conditioned emotional response of "oh crap MONSTERS..." to "yahooo, yippy I just saw a dog". A common indication is the scared dog sees the other dog and before you can deliver the food, scared dog turns and looks at you..."where is my super yummy steak my favorite human, there is a dog over there" and of course we give the food. there are other possible CERs, but this is a common one.

Operant Conditioning. this is where food is a consequence of something the dog being trained dose. dog sits, sit makes food happen. dog lays down, laying down makes food happen. clickers and marker are a popular method implement Operant Conditioning.

Operant Conditioning can be used to counter condition as well. but you approach it a bit different. One example is the fearful dog can't turn away from scary...so they stare and develop tunnel vision and get more and more worked up and they start blocking us out because the SCARY MONSTER IS COMING TO EAT THEM.. one possible approach is to train the scare dog to look at you on cue. so then when out on walks you see the other dog coming into "range" and you cue the scared dog to look at you. the scared dog KNOWS the other dog is out there. the can hear and/or smell the other dog. But in this case we care about the behavior of the scared dog and the consequence of looking in your direction rather than at the other dog is...SUPER YUMMY food. Scared dog's behavior makes the food happen in this case. NOW...pavlov is still tagging along...remember the scare dog know the other dog is out there...they hear/smell it...and the food becomes associated with the scary dog.

even with using Operant Conditioning, you still MUST be mindful of a safe distance. you still want to be working that desensitization. if your scared dog has a reaction...mistakes have happened.

an non fearful example is my neighbors dog, she has been conditioning her dog to see cat...look on the ground for food. i was walking her dog one day and spaced on this...saw the cat...and noticed dog was looking around on the ground then looked up at me kind of puzzled...couldn't get the food out quick enough. her dog saw cat...cat predicted food on the ground. in this case classical conditioning was riding along...this is actually training an alternate behavior to trying to eat the neighborhood cats...but it also demonstrates a CER "dude!...I saw cat...and started looking for food on the ground...where is the food you dumb hairless ape."

mistakes will happen. that is just part of life. the training will over come them provided getting it right far out weights the mistakes.

ok...before I move into novel territory.... better stop here and make sure you don't have any questions. it can take a while to wrap your head around this because of the overlap in the principles.

DianeLDL
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Location: Maine USA

Re: Counter conditioning

Post by DianeLDL » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:32 am

Hi Jacksdad,

Great review for me! I had forgotten all about it and as you can guess, Sandy still reacts to scary.
Our major problems have been:
-I tried using clicker and as you mentioned it didn't work :shock:
-I couldn't get OH on board. He has PhD in Sociology & MS in psychology so he thinks he knows everything there is about conditioning and counter conditioning. So, he won't listen to me. :roll:
-with me, I did as you suggested by giving yummy treat when sees scary monster in distance. So, he began looking at me, & got yummy treat. It worked with ME! :D
--Problem is that when OH would take him, he got upset that Sandy would just look at him expecting yummy treat whether or not there was scary monster. So, OH said something that I can't repeat :oops: and it was over. :mrgreen:
--OH is still getting upset and is angry that Sandy is still reacting and OH is saying nothing works...Oy!

But, OH has had 3 unusual successes and not with any real conditioning, thought, and I didn't observe them myself.
1) We were in Maine, and Sandy slipped out of his collar and ran into the yard where there was Daisy a female boxer. Sandy went up to her, and like a mom with a pup, knocked Sandy over with her paw. Well, that put him in his place. Friends ever since. :D
2 &3) similar incidents both involving female chihuahuas-(for those who don't know it, Sandy is a neutered male chihuahua): once in Maine at a reststop, where Sandy went over and actually the female chihuahua. He didn't try to attack, but after a minute, OH said it looked like Sandy would start to hump her, so he and the female's owner walked in opposite directions.
The second was in Albuquerque at a park where he also was friendly with a female chihuahua and he even let her lick his ear which amused OH.:D
My guess is that they were both chihuahuas as he is, and they were both females so perhaps Sandy didn't feel threatened. According to OH, Sandy appeared quite relaxed with both of them.

Right now, all I've been able to do with Sandy when I'm out with him, and we see scary coming, I've said "Let's go" and taken off in the opposite direction.

But, this did not work the last time a couple weeks ago. We were at the synagogue, and I had taken Sandy onto a tiny grass area in the middle of a parking lot behind the building. When we turned around the corner to go back to the car, both Sandy and I at the same time, saw scary dog on leash walking nicely with owner, coming up the sidewalk towards us. By then, Sandy had begun to react, and I tried to turn and run, but there was no where to go. I then tried to hide us behind some cars. We both knew this dog on leash was going to walk right by us on the sidewalk. I felt we were corned as we had no place to go. There was a fence on one side, and the sidewalk on the other where we needed to go to get back to the car. OH saw it too, and he came to give me support as I had to pick Sandy up while he was thrashing. We all felt that we were totally cornered, and couldn't even get to our car until scary dog had passed us. Note, that this scary dog didn't even look at us to note Sandy's unruly behavior.

It's just so frustrating when I worked so hard and was making progress. But, how do I explain to genius OH that Sandy is supposed to look at him to get the yummy treat.

I think the problem was, though, that Sandy was looking for yummy treat even with NO SCARY DOG.He just knew we had yummy treat and wouldn't budge without getting it. That's why OH stopped it. Obviously, we weren't doing it right or something. :oops:

So, far, there are only 2 parks we can take Sandy (one on the Air Force base and one in an industrial area) where the likelihood of seeing scary dogs is much less, but with warm weather coming there is a chance more dogs will be there.
Also,we will be back at that same synagogue where we were cornered. (We have very little area to go to. We tried closer to the building, and Sandy got burrs.
I need some plans for next time. Any ideas?
(Will counter conditioning work on OH? :wink: )

Jacksdad, thanks again for all your help in the past and, again, this explaination is fantastic!

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

mansbestfriend
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by mansbestfriend » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:17 am

Hi Kimlie. As has been said, there is more than one correct answer, depending on your goals for the training. I'd guess continue what you are currently doing (IE: Operant Conditioning), keep treating for 'good' behaviour, and eventually reduce the frequency of treats. Treats-only can be as effective as click&treat. I never use a clicker these days but timing of treat delivery is still very important.

As you know, it helps to increase the distance away from other dogs and/or people as you pass or overtake them, especially if your dog is showing signs of anxiety (like stiff posture, staring). Barking and lunging means you're already too close.

Emily Larlham's (kikopup) video is correct; she mentions some ideas for specific situations.
:) Cheers
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Sit.

jacksdad
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Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: Counter conditioning

Post by jacksdad » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:39 pm

DianeLDL wrote:
Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:32 am
I think the problem was, though, that Sandy was looking for yummy treat even with NO SCARY DOG.He just knew we had yummy treat and wouldn't budge without getting it. That's why OH stopped it. Obviously, we weren't doing it right or something. :oops:
Hi Diane...long time no chat.

Boy I wish I could meet up with you guys some day and help you out a bit. even still it sounds like you are making some headway those 3 incidents...smells like a bit of progress.

As for the quoted part above...without being able to assess and discuss more I can't say for sure.... BUT him just randomly looking at you.... that could be a VERY good thing and it can absolutely be something worth reinforcing. true...it isn't a counter conditioning moment...but behaviors with the deepest reinforcement history tend to be the goto behaviors. and a dog that has a check in/look at you as a heavily reinforced behavior.... can have that behavior leveraged for other means.

Food for thought.
Kimlie wrote:
Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:58 am
The video says NOT to treat when dog looks at me while counter conditioning, which also
sounds very logical, but I am confused now since you obviously can't do both ways at the same
time.
while I love Kiko pup, this isn't one of Emily's best videos.

If I am right about the part that confused you...the correct answer is IF you are leveraging Classical Conditioning then yes you give the dog food. She is correct if the dog is looking at scary..you put food in front of the dog. BUT if the dog see's scary...and turns and looks at you... BINGO Conditioned Emotional Response. this is the GOAL..this is what you are working for and YES you give the food. I have even been known to give the food if the scared dog isn't looking at scary...but this requires you to have developed some skills in reading signs of awareness and reaction to scary that don't include actually looking. And yes, the dogs still make progress because it is about awareness of the trigger. BUT scared dog looking in the direction of scary is still the best indicator and I would suggest sticking with that for most people.

IF we stop doing Classical Conditioning the effects fade fairly quickly. this why a complete plan includes a transition to some kind of Operant based behavior as it is more resistant to fading. What better behavior to transition to than one the dog is already offering...see's scary...but scary predicts food from my fav human...let me turn and look at my human and get some food. It doesn't get any better than that.

I am going to disagree strongly with the advice that reducing food is a necessarily goal. when classical counter conditioning...in the window you give food...be a slot machine...be generous. another mistake is scared dog sees scary "thing"..we give one treat.... nope...be generous. make an impression...oh you saw scary...well happy birthday, Christmas and new years and oh arbor day for good measure...oh your such a cool dog here is more food...oh scary is gone food stops. always give the food one bit at a time vs just a hand full.

with operant conditioning we use food a bit different...but even here we want high rates of reinforcement during learning. and reducing amounts of food used is a by product of a good plan, not a goal in of it's self.

Ari_RR
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by Ari_RR » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:39 am

Great, JD, thanks.

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Nettle
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by Nettle » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:09 am

Superb contribution, Jacksdad, and so well put across.

I will just underline one very important caveat that I know we have covered before but not in this thread.

The success of CC is that the dog can trust its handler to keep it safe. If ever a troubled dog warns its owner by whatever means that it is afraid, the owner treats, clicks and treats, LATs or whatever and the thing the dog is scared of happens the trust has gone and the CC will CC all right - it will CC the dogs so it knows that when something bad is about to happen, the owner clicks, treats, LATs or whatever, and then the bad thing happens.

So crucial to all this is that the owner is utterly committed to keeping the dog safe - not what the owner thinks is safe, but what the dog does.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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jacksdad
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by jacksdad » Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:34 am

Nettle wrote:
Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:09 am
So crucial to all this is that the owner is utterly committed to keeping the dog safe - not what the owner thinks is safe, but what the dog does.
so so so so critical. this is all I had to work with for months with a dog. can't be emphasized enough. Dogs MUST feel safe to learn the lessons we are trying to teach them. taking action to help them feel safe can be just as good as getting "food" in some cases. it was with this dog. learned a huge amount from this particular dog and still am.

DianeLDL
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by DianeLDL » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:08 pm

Thanks Jacksdad, Ari_RR & Nettle for your input. Great learning from all of you.
Nettle wrote: So crucial to all this is that the owner is utterly committed to keeping the dog safe - not what the owner thinks is safe, but what the dog does.
This is a very important point. As to feeling safe, it seems that Sandy feels safer with OH (6ft. tall & muscular) than with me (under 5ft tall & walk with cane). Sandy seems to feel he needs to protect me by his difference in behavior depending on whether he's with OH or me.

But, even with OH, in response to Nettle's comment, the following incident that happened in Maine seems to prove her point & when we return to Maine, we will have to deal with it.

Described as follows:

OH & Sandy had a very bad run in with the dog next door in Maine. And, even though Sandy was being protected by OH, this incident shows how quickly a situation can change & Sandy's sense of safety along with it. :shock:

In Maine, yards are generally not fenced in, and our next door neighbor does not have a fenced in yard. They just let their big terrier (don't know what kind but about twice Sandy's size & about 25-30 pounds) outside to potty or just be outside on his own off leash.

They let Cowboy out the back door & let him wander. (I'm sure when we aren't there, he's on our property since I can see what I can guess are his poos.)

Well, OH was returning from walking Sandy down our road in the MIDDLE of the road. And, suddenly Cowboy heads towards them at full run. The mother & her teen son called him, but Cowboy ignored them & he was single focused & bent on attacking Sandy who was on leash. OH reacted swiftly & picked Sandy up & was holding Sandy in the middle of the road, as Cowboy grabbed OH's pant leg! :twisted:
Finally the boy caught up to Cowboy & actually had to grab him to release his grip. OH's jeans have teeth holes in them! :shock:

OH, yelled in his police academy voice saying that they need to control Cowboy. But, the neighbor who said she was scared of OH, actually called the sheriff on OH. Well, Sheriff came & saw Sandy & since the incident took place in public road (although the neighbors made up a story & said other things such as being scared of OH. Well, police command voice can sound scary as the Sheriff pointed out.) Sheriff did write in the report that they had to have control of their dog. Other neighbors with young children & their own small dog were also upset as Cowboy could have attacked them!

Sandy seemed okay, but I noticed afterwards, even in our yard he was always on high alert.

And, one day as we were preparing to go on our porch & inside our house, Sandy & I could see Cowboy following along the wooden fence where both dogs could see underneath the fence. I yelled at Cowboy to stay back & got Sandy inside.

Neither situation has helped Sandy feel safe. That's why as long as we were in Maine, after these 2 incidents, I began carrying legal pepper spray in the hand not holding the leash & I was prepared to spray Cowboy. But how to keep Sandy safe as Nettle put it, for him to feel safe not me? Pepper spray gave me sense of doing something, but Sandy doesn't know that.

Now, in Albuquerque, we have 6 ft high cement block fenced in yards. Although a small dog did get in through our gate once. I put Sandy in house & chased dog out.

And, every house in Albuquerque has dogs, so I can't even take Sandy for a walk in our neighborhood. In Maine, we have half acre so we can run around there on our property. And, two other dogs on our road besides us & Cowboy are fenced in. (By the way, Sandy's female boxer friend Daisy lives further down the dirt part of the road on the OTHER side of Cowboy, so we no longer even see her as we won't even walk down our road. :(

So, theses incidents with Cowboy (who only respond to the man of the house but not his wife or teen sons) & their insistence in letting Cowboy out off leash put any training back quite a lot.

If Sandy saw Cowboy as SCARY before, now Cowboy is SCARY MONSTER!

At least we won't need to deal with them for a few months, but I don't want Sandy to be afraid to go outside or for a walk. Our road there turns into a dirt road & ends at a radio control airplane field where it's fun to romp with Sandy when deserted. And, of course Daisy is that direction.

I only described this since it's made it's mark on Sandy's reactivity & fear, & the caveat Nettle mentioned once the fear has been reinforced. And, the point as Nettle mentioned, as in this case, once incidents like this happen, it's very hard to try to give fearful dog feeling of safety.

If we were in Maine now, I would ask for suggestions. When we return to Maine, I'll post questions on this topic then. But, I'm saving all responses to refer to later.

Thanks for this discussion. And, it sounds like I will need to start over. How do I get OH on board, though?

Thanks everyone & great to be in contact & hearing from you again.
Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

mansbestfriend
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by mansbestfriend » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:35 pm

Hi Kimlie. How goes the training? :)
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Sit.

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Nettle
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by Nettle » Sat Apr 15, 2017 3:08 am

Diane, that is an infuriating situation, and I think you and OH dealt with it very well. Sometimes we just have to go with the art of the possible. )))))))))))HUG(((((((((((( We will revisit the situation when you are in Maine - it may have resolved itself by then.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

DianeLDL
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Re: Counter conditioning

Post by DianeLDL » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:52 pm

Nettle,

Thanks for the incourage,net. Yes, I'll revisit it when we get back to Maine.

Thanks for he hugs :D :D

Diane
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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