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Making A Stimulus Neutral

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I'm wanting to decrease some over excitement levels, and as such think that if I can teach the dogs that particular stimuli are neutral that should help with this.

So how do you teach them that something that is currently exciting is actually just neutral?

I could just go with giving lots of treats for attention to me at such times. But I think that adds a value to the stimulus - as in when that stimulus is present there is an expectation of reward. And while I do want more attention to me, I also want the dogs to just be able to ignore certain things in the world or see them as not brilliant and not negative.

So, just after some thoughts please!!

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hmm, like trying to teach the dog that the cat means nothing?

I think there is a book called "click to calm"...

so first you try to get a calm behaviour on cue like a drop and pay attention to you... and when you are sufficiently far away from exciting thing that your dog can still pay attention... you ask for your calm behaviour.

things that are supposed to promote calm - food (does the opposite with my dog so you have to know your dog), ear rubs, belly rubs, butt rubs, brushing, flattery - telling her she's such a good dog...

And then you work on the distance to the stimulus.

we've got good calm up to about 5 to 10m from cat but closer than 5m and we go TAR. (too aroused to respond)

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I have spaces available after Christmas come down and I'll show you how to do it. You tell the dog what to attach the value to, condition the command and then use it wisely young one :p

When you first train it will depend what the stimulus is and what sentiment is attached to it

Edited by Nekhbet
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I used systematic desensitisation with my dog when we introduced two pet mice into the household. This dog has a history of catching many wild mice, so you can imagine her initial reaction to them ;)

Systematic desensitisation is a bit like counter conditioning, except you usually aim to replace the undesirable emotion with the emotion of relaxation. So I just started from a distance and had her lay down and have a nice relaxing massage.

This has been very effective and will usually lay down whenever she goes near the cage.

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I like raineth's method for things like cats. Calm is good.

For agility comp - you want the dog to be excited about it, but still paying attention, and you can train that too.

So you can train the dog to be calm (on command) or you can train the dog to tolerate higher levels of excitement and still pay attention.

Both methods require training on the edge of "way too excited" (or TAR). But with calm - you really want to progress away from the "edge" towards calm and for work - you want the dog to push the edge further out so TAR is less likely.

Some rewards will calm the dog, and some rewards will keep the dog excited or build the excitement.

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