Treatment Type: Training Techniques
Rated for: Great Dane
Posted Nov. 2, 2017
Counter Conditioning works great for helping fear rooted aggression by associating the presence of other dogs with rewards. If you can address the fear you can often solve the aggression, which is in response to the fear.
Counter Conditioning is less effective for dealing with aggression not caused by fear but rotted in something else such as dominance, genetic aggression, lack of socialization, and temperament. Lack of socialization can be linked to fear related aggression, and counter conditioning can help a lot with some of those issues by providing the dog with the confidence and positive association base to gradually being socializing.
Counter conditioning, although less effective at treating aggression not rooted in fear than it is fear related aggression, some dogs can benefit from counter conditioning by using the counter conditioning to teach the dog that reacting positively and calmly equals rewards and that the dog that the aggressive dog despises is actually a source of rewards. This seems to work with about fifty percent of the dogs I have worked with. Many also need some form of other training included. Some see no improvement but do improve with other methods. Some simply have to have their actions managed the rest of their lives and are never trustworthy or not stressed around other dogs.
With most dogs this process does take a long time. Months of doing this for dogs who have been acting aggressive for years seems to be a normal amount of times, and a couple of years is not unheard of. Socializing puppies early and watching for and treating early signs of aggression in puppies is by far the easiest and most effective thing to do when there is opportunity to do so.