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Fear Learning and How to Work With Fearful Dogs Presented by Alexandra Santos

  • Thursday, August 08, 2019
  • 1:00 PM
  • Monday, August 08, 2022
  • 2:30 PM
  • GoToWebinar


  • For Doggone Safe Members
  • PPG Member Registration
  • A Discounted Rate for Pet Owner Members
  • PPG International Chapter Registration
  • Public Registration


CEUs: PPAB 1.5, IAABC 1.5

Fear is an emotion and, as such, subject to respondent conditioning. Therefore, trying to solve fear related problems by focusing solely on modifying the behavior may be pointless. Fear related problems need a respondent as well as an operant approach.

Fear learning is a type of emotional learning that is quite persistent for various reasons: a) it is linked with survival; b) the brain is prewired with a negativity bias; c) sensory information conveyed by the thalamus reaches the amygdala (the brain’s center for emotional processing) much faster than it reaches the neocortex (the brain’s center for cognitive processes and thought). This means an animal will more readily emit an emotional response than a thought-out one.

This presentation focuses not only on fear learning, but also on the mechanisms that make it so persistent and why a respondent approach to solving fear related problems is essential. Some guidelines for effectively working with fearful dogs will also be presented.

Learning Objectives

  • The function of emotions.
  • How fear learning occurs.
  • Systematic desensitization is much more than gradually reducing distance between the dog and the feared stimulus.
  • How to effectively apply systematic desensitization when working with fearful dogs.
  • Why respondent extinction may backfire in some cases.
  • How differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors may, in fact, be flooding.
  • Some guidelines for working with fearful dogs.

About Your Presenter


Alexandra Santos

Alexandra Santos is a professional canine behavior consultant and trainer, with formal education through The Animal Care College in the U.K. where she graduated with honors for the Diploma of Advanced Canine Psychology, and through The Companion Animal Sciences Institute where she graduated with distinction for the Diploma of Advanced Dog Training.

She is the author of the books “Puppy Problems” and “Puppy and Dog Care” and has also authored and co-authored several articles for the Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior and for the International Institute for Applied Companion Animal Behavior. Alexandra lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal, has been a lecturer at several seminars on positive reinforcement-based training, regularly presents webinars for the Pet Professional Guild, is a professor at Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias and provides individual coaching for dogs and their people.

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