Originally Posted by Rescuedpup
...I have the same issue.
I wonder, if you give your dog a treat when they notice someone walking by or start barking at someone,
will they not start to associate barking at someone as the way they get a treat?
Where would U suggest we begin changing the dog's emotional response
to a stranger?
That's not a smart-a$$ Q, i'm asking U to think about it. What would U do to change the FEELINGS of that dog?
Whatever that emotion is - anxiety, anger, fear, excitement, what it is
doesn't matter - currently, it results in BARKING, & for whatever reason [again, why
doesn't matter] the owner doesn't want the dog to bark, under those circumstances... whatever they
The circs might be when out in public on leash, or at the vet's office when the tech comes to take the leash & lead the dog to the treatment room, or maybe at home *after* the visitor is welcomed into the house by the owner.
Whatever the situation, the barking is either excessive or inapropos - & the owner wants it to stop.
The easiest way to STOP the barking is to alter the emotion, at the root of the barking
Change the feelings that give rise to the response, & the outward manifestation of that emotion will cease.
So the new pattern for the owner - or the trainer, handler, or whoever is holding the leash, ATM - is to PAIR the sight or sound of any stranger with small tidbits of food. As long as a stranger is visibly present, or audible to the dog
[from the dog's manner, as the handler will long-since be unable to hear the stranger], food is on offer.
When there is no stranger to be seen or even heard in the near-distance, poof! - the food's gone.
Eating - even smellin
g food, if the dog is too overaroused to eat it - releases endorphins, which are calming.
Sniffing itself, as an activity, is calming to dogs; anxious dogs will often self-soothe by sniffing around.
So we're helping the dog learn a new response: sight or sound of a stranger in these circs is less arousing.
How far we need to take this depends on what the owner wants the dog to do - tolerate the stranger, but ignore them?
Allow handling by the stranger? - perhaps the vet, or a groomer, or an acupuncturist for joint-pain...
Be friendly to the stranger? - visitors to the house might like to pet the dog, not just be in the same room.
So the counter-conditioning
process goes on as long as is needed, to reach that goal.
During the B-mod protocol, everyone must do their best to *avoid* flooding the dog: keep exposure under threshold.
If the handler gets too close, & the dog begins to bark, do a previously-practiced emergency-U-turn, & get outta there.
If a stranger emerges just in front of U as U walk the dog, from a hidden doorway or between parked cars, U-turn!
Stuff happens; the world & everything in it, isn't in our control. We just deal with the situation at hand, as best we can.
Over time, the dog relaxes; barking is both less frequent & less intense; it stops sooner than it once did.
Strangers - at least, in the specific circs of the B-Mod process - are now a reason for happy anticipation.
Instead of barking, the dog is alert but relaxed; s/he looks from stranger to handler, anticipating a tidbit. Bingo!
Now, we can reduce the distance between the dog & strangers, in this setting... & so on.
So - to answer Ur Q - no, the dog doesn't think "barking gets treats".
BECAUSE... we don't give the dog treats every time they bark
. We give treats only when strangers are present,
& only in those circs where barking is unwanted.
// There may be times & places when 'bark at strangers' is wanted.
We aren't messing with those - only those situations where barking is undesirable, persistent, or inapropos.
Ppl often think B-mod is "training".
Training is the process of teaching a behavior, or a chain of behaviors, to be performed on cue. B-Mod is the systematic alteration of an emotional response, in order to change the behavior manifested.
Reduced to its essence, Skinner is training; Pavlov is association
, & B-Mod is pure Pavlov. Pavlov
is a Russian medical researcher, a physiologist studying digestion; in the 1890s, he observed that the dogs in his lab salivated at sounds
which they'd learned predicted meat-powder would be blown into their mouths, even when no meat-powder was forthcoming; they even drooled at the sight of ppl in white lab-coats... which all the technicians, who delivered the meat-powder, wore - to protect their clothing.
This detoured his research from physiology to psychology, & he spent the next 3 decades, discovering how best to create & extinguish conditioned reflexes.
But he wasn't a behaviorist - for him, learning how the brain worked was his religion. Behaviorists viewed it as an inviolable black-box, forever unknowable. Pavlov saw the brain as unexplored terrain.
for more on Pavlov: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/drool
If i had a very friendly dog, trusting & sociable, & i wanted to make that dog suspicious of strangers & unfriendly, B-Mod can do that, too.
But most ppl want their dog to be less reactive - not more.