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Using a Clicker for Counter Conditioning: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Dogs

Using a clicker for counter conditioning stranger reactivity can be a highly effective way to help dogs overcome their fear or aggression towards unfamiliar people. The basic principle behind this technique is to teach the dog to associate the presence of strangers with positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise.

The first step in using a clicker for counter conditioning is to select a calm and well-behaved stranger as the subject of the training. This person should be willing to participate in the training and should be able to remain still and quiet during the initial stages of the process.

Next, the dog should be placed in a position where they can see the stranger, but at a safe distance where they do not feel threatened. The clicker should then be used to mark the dog's calm behavior, such as sitting or laying down, and a treat should be given as a reward.

As the dog becomes more comfortable with the stranger, the distance between them can be gradually decreased. The clicker should continue to be used to mark calm behavior and a treat should be given as a reward.

It is important to note that this process should be done in small steps, and the dog should never be pushed beyond their comfort level. If the dog begins to show signs of fear or aggression, the distance should be increased and the training should be stopped for a short time before trying again.

It's also important to note that this process should be done gradually, over time. It is not a quick fix, but a gradual process that takes patience and consistency.

In addition, it is also important to not only train the dog with one stranger, but also with a variety of people with different ages, sizes, skin color, etc.

Using a clicker for counter conditioning can be a highly effective way to help dogs overcome their fear or aggression towards strangers. With patience, consistency, and the right approach, your dog can learn to view strangers as positive reinforcement and develop a more relaxed and comfortable attitude towards them


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happydawgs
happydawgs
Jan 19, 2023

I would also like to add that this technique should also be used with dogs who are nervous of people in uniform, dark clothing, hats, and the like. For example, I have a client whose dog becomes extremely reactive to people wearing parkas - even people they already know. I think almost every conceivable situation can definitely be helped with clicker training. :)

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