The Devil is in the Details…

Whenever I am working with pets who exhibit aggression, I will often ask the family members to keep a diary of certain aggressive behaviors. This not only helps to monitor progress, but also to identify triggers of aggression that have gone unnoticed.
I was recently reminded how incredibly useful this tool can be when a pet owner submitted her diary to me.
This particular pet owner has a 5 year old female spayed Shiba Inu who exhibited aggressive behavior towards the owner when the owner entered the bedroom. Based on the behavioral history, I advised a basic counter conditioning program and asked her to keep a diary of her dog’s behavior.
When we followed up a few weeks later, the dog had improved. The aggression was much less intense and less frequent but she would still sometimes show aggression in the same context. Because of the diary, we were able to identify that the dog was more likely to show aggression when the airconditioner was off in the bedroom and the bedroom door was left open. This informed me that the dog started to feel negative emotions as she heard the footsteps on the stairs. Based on this information, I was able to modify the next steps in the training program. In addition, I advised them to play a white noise machine in their bedroom on nights when they did not plan to run the air-conditioner. This way they had a way to prevent the aggressive behavior from occurring while they worked on the behavior modification plans.
The goal of the counterconditioning plan I advised them to do is to try and change the dog’s underlying emotional state when the owner walks into the room. By changing the underlying emotional state, we can change behaviors.
I am looking forward to following up with them and reading the next diaries in two weeks!

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This is a great idea. Thanks.

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