Second of Six

‘Perception Modification’ :  We can change the way an animal looks at, and reacts to, something.  Things that cause an animal to react emotionally can be called ‘triggers’.  Triggers can be cars, car rides, other dogs, cats, people approaching, separation, getting nails trimmed, veterinarians, noises and much more.  The type of reaction can be arousal, aggression, fear, hyperactivity,  dread, or other emotional responses.  The triggers may be environmental, or they may be internal.  An external trigger might be the approach of another dog, ‘triggering’ your dog to bark or strain..  An internal trigger might be a habit of hyperarousal, which ‘triggers’ the dog to whine and jump. Through Perception Modification,we can help an animal change the way he reacts to a trigger, but we can also help him to change the way he FEELS about the trigger.   In a case of collecting blood samples in pigs, untrained pigs squealed and strained to avoid blood collection.  Trained pigs vied to be first to get to donate blood, and volunteered to stand for the collection. Dogs with a history of cat aggression can learn to become cat watchers, calmly observing cats as they pass by.  In simple desensitisation, the dog will stop showing a stress reaction to a trigger, but may still experience the trigger as a stress.  

Actual case:  Ebony, Wood Green Animal Shelters with Annette Harwood:

In Perception Modification, the animal proves, through his independent choices, that he truly sees the trigger in a new way.  See the video of the pigs trained for blood collection here: (scroll down).  Once trained, pigs that were initially afraid of the blood collection process, vied to be chosen to give blood.  


Can the Perception Modification protocols solve all problems?

Yes, but not in all cases, and there may be maintenance work required, though there usually is not.  Trainers have helped animals learn to cooperate with vet procedures, allow handling, stop tail chasing, heal separation anxiety, stop aggression and arousal, and more.  The dog may be very severe, and still change very thoroughly.


Next time:  Three Reasons Perception Modification fails.