The CER: Conditioned Emotional Response

At this point, you’ve been creating a positive association with your dog’s trigger(s) and there are some typical challenges that go along with it. Let’s review those and troubleshoot:

  • Dog is barking/lunging/reacting
    • The trigger is too close/intense. Feed anyway!
  • Dog won’t take food
    • The trigger is too close/intense – get some distance and work from where your dog feels safe. If that distance is not realistic, let me know in the discussion and let’s talk about it! There’s a lot we can do. 
  • Dog won’t listen to me when the trigger is present
    • That’s okay – at this point, your dog doesn’t need to do anything except eat. Don’t ask for any behaviours when the trigger is present – the food should be there to create an awesome association rather than being contingent on a behaviour. 
  • I’m not consistent enough
    • Get consistent! Let’s work together to find some ways that you can make this process easier. Having food packed at ready for all walks, a note on the door, shortened walks, a qualified walk & train professional to help you along, a virtual coaching session with me, (in-person if you’re local)…there are so many ways I can help!
  • We can’t get away from triggers
    • That’s a toughie! Living in a busy city means triggers are everywhere and difficult to avoid. This is where we have to get really creative. Can you use a tool to reduce the exposure? A Calming Cap, a Happy Hoodie? Can you take walks at less busy times or try a quieter route? Get in the Community – there are so many ways I can help!

What are we looking for?

A Conditioned Emotional Response (CER). Just like Pavlov’s dogs would drool at the sound of the bell, we want your dog to perk up and anticipate good things when they see the trigger at a safe distance. This is what we call a CER.

At this point, you’ll likely still have outbursts if the trigger is too close or intense. That is normal. At a safe distance, hopefully your dog perks up and looks towards you. Is that happening?

Even if it’s just now and again, that’s great! We want this to happen all the time, so if you must, tighten up management and bring the best treats ever – make it as clear as possible to your dog that THIS. IS. THE. BEST. EVER. 

It takes consistency and time. Hang in there. You’ve got this!!