Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fearful behaviour- Keegan barked

at a doll...mind you this doll has a freaky resemblance to Linda Blair's ' performance in "The Exorcist" :)

During our Canine Good Neighbor class a doll in a wheelchair just so happened to be placed where she gave Keegan direct eye contact...which freaked him out.  The anxiety came in the form of a bark and back up, and evil eye right back at the doll, to make sure that doll stayed put.

I brought the doll home...who's the evil one :)

I noticed that Kee didn't need Classical Conditioning right off the bat. Which would have meant, treat before Kee having to offer a behaviour. Just hanging out with me, when the scary thing was present, is enough to make treats or whatever trumps that freaky thing appear from my hands.

Working at a distance where his body is relaxed but you could tell, if we moved any closer, Keegan would not have been able to focus on me or eat any treats, it would be internally too much pressure for him.  Classical Conditioning would have been used until he internally (emotionally) feels differently about the doll. "Doll, I love you! It's so much fun when you're around"....

To test whether or not Classical Conditioning has taken place...the mere sight or anticipation of being in the same area of the doll from a distance would have Keegan tap dancing for the ABSENCE of treats /reinforcers. Then I normally switch to Operant Conditioning.. Kee was interested in interacting right off the bat when I brought the doll out so I started with OC, Desensitization and Counter Conditioning techniques.

Keep working sessions short. Normally I start off rewarding any interest in interacting with me, before moving closer to the frightening object. Always making the dog come to ME and away from the scary thing for the reward.  It ends up like learning a new dance.  Dog trying to communicate to you that there is a threat, you trying to communicate that really isn't a threat, no need to fret :)

Biofeedback also plays a big part in communicating with the dog.  It sure helps if you give them calming signals and they in turn receiprocate them, and relax their body language. 

Notice doll is not facing Keegan, and is stationary.  I won't add staring or movement just yet. Keegan's body language was a bit frenetic so a direct stare from the doll would have set us back to square one.  

First session - Kee offering up behaviours and being rewarded for interaction (polite) with doll and also being able to take focus off the doll to interact with me or feeling comfortable with leaving the area on his own and going to his kennel.

Session #2 -Kee's body is less frantic, and he's fine with me directing him to interact, his eye's aren't that peeled on the doll. He gets that it's an object now rather than a freaky staring person that doesn't smell like a human or act like one :)

Session #3 -No treats, just interacting with doll and me, and at the end when I asked him to sniff, he didn't care to sniff the doll so I'm happy to praise him for finding the floor much more interesting than the doll :)


Kristine said...

This is really interesting, seeing the process in a step-by-step manner like that. Thank you very much for taking the time to put all this up. I'm glad Keegan has gotten over his fears!

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

THank you Kristine, but we're not done just yet.

Normally when you add movement BEFORE the dog doesn't care one way or the other about the freaky backfires.

Next step is bringing the doll out and just hanging out with her, Keegan being rewarded for not paying attention to her, so she becomes nothing special.

After that we'll add direct stare and then movement.

Normally people assume too early that the dog gets that it's no threat. It takes time to overcome fears. I have yet to overcome some of mine!