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My Dog is afraid of the Lift, what can I do?

My dog is afraid of taking the lift.

I think our pet dog is having an easier life like thirty-years ago, where there are no Lifts, no Escalators, no lookalike high rise building etc. Our Kampong days were the most basic and simple lifestyle, where our pet dog flourishes among and in our community.

With the Modernisation of the country, people, building, lifestyles have all improved tremendously. Few of the lucky folks, have their very own private lift inside their house. And most of us living in high rise government or privately owned apartments uses Lift every day, at work or at home.

It boils down to the amount of exposure we have provided for our dog. Some time to stop stressing our poor pup, we might avoid taking the lift altogether.

Let’s breakdown the learning processes;

1. Overcoming the fear, 2. Get in & out of the Lift, 3. Minimal increment of the closing & opening of the lift door, 4. Take a short trip on the Lift, 5. An entire Lift Journey to & fro from home.

In Essence, we are exactly doing a Classical Conditioning and a Counter Conditioning on your pup.

If you look carefully into the issue, it's all about fear. Being fearful is not a big issue, but shutting down due to fear is a big problem for us as owner.

With regards with fear, it's a reflex mechanism, it doesn't need to go to the brain with cognitive assessment, it just reacted as second nature.

When your pup gets into this trance, it kicks into their reflex system, at this moment, no amount of reinforcement or learning will take place.

In such circumstances, I would recommend Classical Condition, aka Association Conditioning. Working on the 5 senses of your pup, Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Smelling and Tasting.

First Level of CC Every opportunity we will association conditioning for our pup, - when your pup see a lift, C/T, - when your pup hears the Lift sound, C/T.

Second Level of CC - walking pass the lift with the smell, C/T, - witness the opening of the lift door, C/T, - witness the closing of the lift door, C/T,

Third Level of CC working on the touch senses; - step into the lift without closing the door, C/T, - allow the pup to get out of the lift, - step into the lift with the door closing, C/T, - open the door and allow the pup to get out of the lift,

Once we complete the 3 levels of CC, we are almost ready for the OC.

First Level of OC working on the A+B+C learning, (when the lift door is open) - the antecedent is the lift, the behaviour is the walk into the lift and the consequence is positive and C/T,

Second Level of OC working on the A+B+C Learning, (when the lift door is closed) - the antecedent is the lift door closing, the behaviour is to stay put in the lift and consequence is positive and C/T,

Third Level of OC working on the A+B+C learning, (when the lift door reopens) - this time the criteria changes - the antecedent is reopening of the lift door, the behaviour is to stay put in the lift and wait for release command to get out of the lift, C/T.

In the demand phase of the Dog Training Life Cycle, I talk about the various stages in the Life Cycle, where I work on the On-demand phase to proof the behaviour.

With carefully thought out processes in the area of CC and OC, I trust it will help your pup to overcome the fear of the lift. And with continuous reinforcement, your pup will only get better by the day and eventually love the ride of the lift as it leads him to the World of Possibility.

A good trainer will always help our pup in learning by breaking down the learning process into small bites where he can learn easily.

This is to ensure training will always be fun, rewarding and provoking to the mind.

Have fun & stay positive!

Dexter Sim, Dog Trainer

*CC - Classical Conditioning *C/T - Click & Treat *OC - Operant Conditioning

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