Instructor: Nancy Tucker
This course is eligible for 21 CEUs with the CCPDT for training.
Learn the art and science of Desensitization and Counter-conditioning. Acquire skills that will allow you to help your dog develop a diminished or a more positive emotional response to things he’s not too keen about. This course is structured as a “Trainer’s Choice”. Gold students will each choose up to three stimuli they’ll use to practice and sharpen their DS&CC skills: Anything from the monster vacuum cleaner to nail trimming to the fear of being picked up.
This course is about learning the process and practicing the mechanics so that you can tackle the bigger problems with knowledge and experience. It will allow you to achieve success with a few smaller issues in order to increase the chances of succeeding with the bigger issues. (If, for example, your dog responds aggressively to the presence of another dog, you might want to begin learning about the DS&CC process by first addressing easier issues, rather than a large one like dog aggression. Taking on a mammoth issue right away is a little like learning to high dive by starting your first lesson on the 80ft platform!)
Ideally, students will choose a few stimuli over which they have complete control, i.e. the stimulus is not present when they’re not working with it.
NOTE: We will not be addressing aggressive behaviours towards people or dogs in this class. If you’re not sure whether the main issue you want to address is appropriate for this course, please contact the instructor to discuss prior to registering at the Gold level. Remember that you can always register at Bronze or Silver and upgrade if room is available within the first 2 weeks of class.
Next session starts: October 1, 2018Registration starts: September 22, 2018Registration ends: October 15, 2018
Registration will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Gold level access includes all lecture and video materials, ability to post questions and videos to the course forum, and feedback on all questions asked in the forum as well as feedback on both written and video assignments. Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Bronze Level Access includes all lecture and video materials, and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forum. You will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
Gold level access includes all lecture and video materials, ability to post questions and videos to the course forum, and feedback on all questions asked in the forum as well as feedback on both written and video assignments.Number of slots:12
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback.Number of slots:25
Bronze Level Access includes all lecture and video materials, and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forum. You will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.Number of slots: unlimited
WEEK 1: Theory and selection of practice scenarios
WEEKS 2 and 3: Progressing through chosen “practice” stimuli. Planning, practicing and tracking progress. Measuring whether successful at creating a positive CER.
WEEKS 4, 5, and 6: Handler’s choice: Applying DS/CC to treat an actual fear.
Desensitization and Counter-conditioning
- What does it mean, exactly? (What it is, and what it isn’t)
- Recipe for success – an ingredient list
- How operant learning fits into the equation (Are we just changing feelings or are we changing behaviours too?)
- Sequence of events – carts and horses and such
- Timing is everything
- To click or not to click – Is marking necessary?
- Mistakes are incredibly easy to make (a.k.a. – why smart trainers practice first)
- Teeny tiny bite-sized steps
- You can’t rush the process (and why you shouldn’t try)
- Being creative
- Tracking progress (how can you tell if it’s working?)
- Ugh – it’s not working!
- Wait… did I make it worse?
There are no prerequisite skills or knowledge for this course. For students who are registering for this class to address a particular issue, please note that the program involves gradually and systematically helping your dog overcome his/her fear of a particular stimulus.
To increase the chances of succeeding, your dog should only be exposed to the stimulus while you are actively working on the exercises. At all other times, your dog will not be put in a position where he must face the thing he’s afraid of, at a level that he can’t comfortably handle.
If you'd like to sign up for a Gold spot and have some questions or concerns about this, please contact the instructor. Nancy is happy to answer your questions and help you sort this out.
If your dog is already being treated medically for fear or anxiety and is on medication, please contact Nancy to provide her with some additional details.
Also note that having a dog who is fearful of something is not a prerequisite! Students are welcome to register for the course to learn about using DS/CC for future use.
THIS IS TAKING TOO LONG. CAN WE SPEED IT UP A BIT?
The process of DS/CC takes time. How much time? As much time as it takes!
There is no set timeline, no definite date of completion. And most importantly, you can’t rush the process, no matter how badly you want to.
I think this is the most difficult thing for most of us to accept. It can sometimes feel very frustrating, especially when things are going well and we’re tempted to push it along just a wee bit faster. Just a pinch. Hardly noticeable.
Practicing patience and respecting the need for the process to unfold as it should is crucial for success.
I can repeat this until I’m blue in the face, and *still* some of you will want to try to rush things at some point during the process. It’s normal to feel like it’s no big deal to cheat just a lil’ bit (who’s gonna know, amirite?). Well, you’ll know. You’ll know because it won’t work.
So in this lecture, I’m going to throw a handful of analogies in the air and hope this helps get my message across.
The first one tells the well-known story shared by Nikos Kazantzakis (author of “Zorba the Greek”). One day, while watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon, he became impatient with the drawn-out process and decided he’d help it move along faster by gently blowing on the wings of the butterfly to dry them.
It didn’t work. He tried to rush a mechanism that has no business being rushed, and in the process, he prevented the butterfly from emerging at the correct, natural speed. There was no going back… no saying “Oops” and then starting again. The damage was done. The butterfly died. Kazantzakis was wracked with guilt and famously said this incident weighed heavily on him for the rest of his life.
I know. Dead butterflies are sad. Little caterpillar dude was so close to finally becoming what he’d worked so hard to achieve – his whole reason for existing. It was taken away by someone trying to “help” move things along. I’m hoping this image now pops into your head the next time you’re tempted to speed up the DS/CC process.
Here’s another analogy… less sad, but many of you may relate:
Dieting. Many of us have, at one point in our lives, decided to get healthy and lose some weight. We usually start off feeling very gung-ho about it all (“This time I mean it!”), and we restrict our calorie intake with a clear goal in mind.
But if we try to rush the process by reducing our calories too drastically, we are setting ourselves up to fail. The odds are stacked against us by approaching weight loss this way. We’ll either deprive ourselves too much and give up, or we’ll succeed at losing a bunch of weight very quickly, only to gain it all back (and then some) thanks to a natural biological process that is designed to protect us from starving.
Or how about joining the local gym. We set ourselves up for the same unsuccessful outcome if we skip steps in a new fitness plan. We might lift too many weights too soon and injure ourselves. We might start a running program before conditioning our bodies to be able to handle running, and also injure ourselves in the process.
Injuries are a set-back, and after recovery, we often just forget the whole idea.
And then we tell ourselves “I tried dieting and exercising, but it didn’t work.”
It’s usually not that “it didn’t work”, but rather that “we didn’t follow the program”. Nevermind a program, how many of us have tried to wing it without even having a program to follow in the first place?
Speaking of wings… that poor little butterfly. Remember him? ☹
And here’s another example. Remember those “egg and spoon” races? You place an egg on a spoon and try to run as quickly and carefully as you can to reach the finish line without dropping your egg. If you drop your egg, you’re out. The damage is done. If you rush it – if you try to go faster than you should, you increase the chances of dropping your egg.
However, if you move steadily – don’t push it, just keep moving, keep your eye on the egg, adjust your speed as necessary to keep the egg safe – you will likely make it. Even if the egg is so wobbly that you have to completely stop moving for a moment to let it settle down again, you will make it. Your ultimate goal is to reach the other side with your egg intact. Evaluating and making necessary adjustments as you move along will help you accomplish that.
And the good news about using DS/CC to treat a fear is that it’s not a race! There is no prize for going faster. The ultimate prize is reaching the end.
"Nancy took a complicated subject and made it REAL -- in specific, easy-to-understand terms and examples! Awesome class."
"Very helpful course. We needed this and will be continuing to work on the homework"
"This class was extremely helpful to me as I have a rescue puppy with many fear based issues that need ds/cc. I understand the steps now that are needed to change feelings... Nancy is very thorough and helpful with the gold students."
"I just want to say that this was an amazing course and I look forward to really walking through it with my dog."
"I've told her often but Nancy rocked! She made sure that the course moved at an appropriate pace for the subject which is quite involving and can be especially emotional to the students because of our commitment to help our dogs through their issue(s). I took this course with one of my dogs in mind but realized in the middle that another dog had an issue too that I could apply the class with! I've very excited to start implementing my plan now that the class is concluding. If you are on the fence of taking this at Bronze or Silver, I would suggest that if possible, take this at Silver because if you are a little or not familiar with the concepts, you will have a lot of questions that Nancy will help you through!"
"Nancy is very knowledgeable and had the lectures laid out well"
"Excellent descriptions of DSCC and how to develop your own plan for any triggers your dog may have."
"Nancy is very patient and helpful with explanations... I really liked that the lectures were spread out and succinct. This topic can be overwhelming, but Nancy did a great job with the content."
"My only regret is that I did not take this course at the point when a young, nervous dog entered my life. I have read a lot about CC/DS in the past three years, but Nancy's lectures and feedback (to me and others) helped clarify and ground the key ideas. In no sense did it feel repetitious; it was very helpful to watch the gold teams put the ideas into practice, and even more so to get Nancy's feedback on my own dog and technique. I felt that Nancy gave every question and team careful thought. I highly recommend this course (preferably at silver or gold) to anyone with a fearful dog. In fact, I'd recommend it to anyone with a dog. Thank you, Nancy!"
"If I knew then what I know now, my young dog would be a very different, more confident dog. But this class helps me solidify a plan to work through. I have little control over the main stressor, but I can still work on helping my dog at least tolerate it and and gain more confidence."
"Best discussion of classical conditioning and counter conditioning"