Sink or swim – a quick note on desensitization vs flooding.

These terms are applicable to both human and non humans. To achieve potential and overcome fear (both instinctual and learnt) we must break the ultimate goal into small manageable steps, how small depends on how difficult the challenge and how sensitive the animal. This is desensitization. Set them up to succeed.

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Chasing or bullying the animal/child until they give in and comply is flooding and increases fear, they may maintain composure for a while but they are liable to errupt with an heightened level of fear or even phobia. This is flooding. When the eruption happens we are likely to be shocked and think this ‘bad behaviour’ has come out of the blue, then depending on the species probably apply punishment and compound the problem until an understanding person looks at treating the cause not the symptom.

Click here to read Victoria Stilwell’s article and examples of desensitization with dogs.

Image from link above and by (c 2016 Andrew Thomas)

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