Helping Dogs With Fear or Anxiety Behaviors – Flooding or Systematic Desensitization

Undoing bad experiences is know as counter conditioning, one type of counter conditioning is called the systematic desensitization approach. A systematic desensitization approach has three components. a)  relaxation training, reinforcing a calm response from the animal, b) setting up a hierarchy of fear eliciting stimuli, ranging from the least to the most problematic situation, and c) counter conditioning a preferred response from the animal at each level.

Systematic desensitization addresses problems by overcoming fears gradually and managing the dogs comfort and fear levels at each level of intensity before moving onto the next level.

The other system is called flooding, this is not a method used by DogSmiths. Read below and you will understand why

Flooding

Flooding is the direct opposite of systematic desensitization. Flooding involves presenting all of the feared stimuli at once, the theory is that high levels of anxiety and fear all at once will “get the fear over and done with” Many dogs under flooding techniques loose control of their bladder and bowls, some resist flooding so intensely that they become aggressive and dangerous. Flooding teaches no positive associations and is not a method endorsed or approved by The DogSmith Training Center

Think about something you are scared or fearful of. Which method would you rather your counselor used to help you overcome this problematic fear. I know which one i would choose.

Bibliography

Chance, P. (2008) Learning and Behavior. Wadsworth Cengage Learning

Reid. P. J Excel-erated Learning (1996) James and Kenneth Publishers.


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