How to Use Counterconditioning to Train a Puppy to Stop Fearing Kids

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 9, 2017

For this Santa Monica puppy training session we used counterconditioning to help eight-month-old Mini Goldendoodle Ollie stop acting fearful around kids.

Ollie’s guardians informed me that his puppy behavior was more mellow than usual due to a lot of activity earlier in the day. I was hoping that they were going to say that the reason was due to the arrival of a certain dog behavior expert, lol.

We spent an hour discussing how to use rules and boundaries to help Ollie develop more respect for his guardians as authority figures, ways to disagree when the puppy got into trouble and how to add a little structure to petting him and other kinds of positive dog training.

When you have a cute puppy this lovable, its natural to spoil them. But just like a developing child, giving the dog whatever it wants when it wants it can result in a petulant young puppy. Fortunately Ollie’s guardians didn’t go overboard with the affection and he is a pretty smart pup. He started catching on to some of the puppy training tips and puppy behavior secrets I shared with his guardians right away.

I was about to show Ollie’s guardians how to use counterconditioning to help him get over fears of kids when I noticed he was pulling away when I moved my hand towards him. Fortunately you can use counterconditioning to help dogs with many problems. Check out the video below to get some of the dog training tips I shared with Ollie’s family.

Using counterconditioning to help a puppy get over fears is pretty easy, but requires discipline. You have to make sure the puppy is sub threshold (calm and not agitated) by increasing the space between it and the stimulus or lowering the intensity in other ways. I accomplished this by slowing down the speed of my approaching hand when demonstrating in the apartment.

When the guardians use this technique to help the puppy get over fear of kids, they will need to use distance to help Ollie feel safe. Once the find the right distance, it will be about repping the exercise until Ollie is able to stay seated five times in a row. At that point, they can move one step closer and repeat the process. It takes time, but when done correctly, this solves the puppy behavior problem for good.

Because Ollie pulled on walks, I showed his guardians how to use a Martingale collar to get him to stop pulling on the leash. One of the guardians found it a bit challenging as we walked around Santa Monica, but with a little practice, I think she will get the swing of it pretty quickly.

When we got back from the walk I handed the guardians my phone so we could shoot Ollie’s puppy roadmap to success. You can check it out in the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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