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Fear is an emotion and, as such, subject to respondent conditioning. Therefore, trying to solve fear related problems by focusing solely on modifying the behavior may be pointless. Fear related problems need a respondent as well as an operant approach. Fear learning is a type of emotional learning that is quite persistent for various reasons: a) it is linked with survival; b) the brain is prewired with a negativity bias; c) sensory information conveyed by the thalamus reaches the amygdala (the brain’s center for emotional processing) much faster than it reaches the neocortex (the brain’s center for cognitive processes and thought). This means an animal will more readily emit an emotional response than a thought-out one. This presentation focuses not only on fear learning, but also on the mechanisms that make it so persistent and why a respondent approach to solving fear related problems is essential. Some guidelines for effectively working with fearful dogs will also be presented. Learning Objectives The function of emotions. How fear learning occurs. Systematic desensitization is much more than gradually reducing distance between the dog and the feared stimulus. How to effectively apply systematic desensitization when working with fearful dogs. Why respondent extinction may backfire in some cases. How differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors may, in fact, be flooding. Some guidelines for working with fearful dogs.
Sponsor:Pet Professional Guild