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This is the more stressful method of getting a dog to overcome their fear. The preferred and less stressful method is Premack Principle. Premack Principle doesn’t always work. Some dogs need to be exposed to something to realize it is actually ok and not going to hurt them.

Flooding: Exposing a dog to a stimulus until the dog settles down and realizes it wasn’t that bad.

Caution: When using this technique the dog needs to continue to be exposed until they settle down. If the dog is removed before they settle down it can increase the anxiety around this stimulus.

Example: We worked with a dog that was terrified of anything new. When training him to walk in a parking lot he was terrified of the plastic wind flaps where the shopping carts go. Premack Principle did not work (trying to associate food, toys or attention with the scary flaps).

I picked him up and carried him close to the plastic flaps. He froze solid and was terrified. We waited for 15 minutes and he finally calmed down. I then praised him lots and he was happy. Next I took one of the plastic flaps and touched him with it. He froze solid again and was terrified. Another 10 minutes and he settled down and I praised him lots.

After that he was completely fine with the plastic flaps. They weren’t going to hurt him so it was ok to expose him to them.