exposure, in carefully monitored increments, to the thing that causes fear. Conditioning the behavior so that the response to this thing will stop being fear--barking, lunging, growling, cowering--and become something positive.
What’s most effective is treatment that will change the way [the dog] feels about something. This treatment will eliminate the underlying reason for the behavior problem in the first place.
So a dog that's afraid of other dogs gets exposed to them: first at a distance, then a bit closer, then more, then without a fence, then a close encounter with one single (very friendly, very well-mannered) dog, then another, and another, then maybe two, then three, until--finally--he's ready for the dog park. The dog has learned, through this exposure, that other dogs aren't to be feared. If we're lucky, he might even have found out they're fun. At the very least, though, he won't tear that little Pomeranian to shreds the minute we look away.
Extreme sensitivity might be a bad thing--primarily for the dog, since it causes him/her angst and stress, and for the owner of that little Pomeranian--but sensitivity itself isn't. The ability to feel--isn't that what makes us alive?
When you heard about the Malaysian plane, did you cry? When you saw the George Zimmerman - Trayvon Martin story, were you outraged? When you read about a shop owner shot dead in the course of a robbery, do you mourn that life--and the social circumstances that caused its end?
Most people don't. Not, in any case, for longer than it takes to shake heads and switch channels. Because we're over-exposed. Exposure changes the way we feel about something. Exposure eliminates the underlying reason for the behavior. Death and cruelty, lack of integrity and prejudice--these things have become normal. They don't make us cringe anymore.
Over-exposure leaches out the color of life.
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Thanks for the visit, and sorry about the late post. P coming soon(ish).
See you all around the A-to-Z water cooler.
Happy Easter weekend!