Desensitization. Socialization. Counter-conditioning. These are three common terms used by trainers, and for many owners, they can sound like those big, unpronounceable words doctors use to describe common illnesses. Let’s de-mystify these terms, shall we?
Desensitization: In a nutshell, it means exposing your dog to daily life. Kids, skateboards, crowds, bicycles, and life in general as often as possible. Do this, and your dog won’t care about those things. When the dog doesn’t care, he’s more likely to be relaxed and calm in those situations.
Socialization: Similar to desensitization, in that you get your dog used to all sorts of different situations that involve people, other animals, and etc. In the process, you also build trust and confidence between you and your dog, and your dog learns to remain calm and relaxed no matter what’s going on.
Counter-conditioning: A fancy term for helping your dog change their perceptions about things that make them nervous or fearful. For example, if your dog is afraid of getting in the car, you counter that fear by teaching her that good things happen when she gets into it. Treats and praise are the most commonly used rewards.
While this is a pretty simplistic outline of these terms, the point is to help owners feel a little less intimated and overwhelmed. I mean, if I was struggling with my dog, I definitely wouldn’t want someone using “doctor-speak” with me when I’m already feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
I hope this helps. Feel free to comment below with any questions you might have. And if you’re struggling with your dog right now, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. 🙂 Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.