Modifying Aggressive Dog Behavior
That loud buzz you hear is the sound of the dog behavior and training community discussing a controversial new approach to modifying aggressive behavior in dogs. The developers of "Constructional Aggression Treatment" (CAT) claim that the shaping-based operant protocol produces stronger and much faster results than the classical counter-conditioning process widely used by training and behavior professionals today. CAT was devised and tested by Dr. Jes¨²s Rosales-Ruiz, a behavior analyst and associate professor of behavior analysis at the University of North Texas, and Kellie Snider, a board-certified associate behavior analyst. Snider completed her MS in Behavior Analysis at UNT in 2007 with Dr. Rosales-Ruiz as her graduate research advisor and the CAT procedure as the topic of her thesis research. Canine behavior experts frequently use classical conditioning techniques (including counter-conditioning) to help change how dogs feel about and respond to the stimuli that triggers their aggressive behavior. In other words, classical counter-conditioning changes the dog's emotions in order to change his behavior. In contrast, CAT utilizes "operant conditioning," where the goal is changing the dog's behavior in a way that will likely produce a subsequent emotional change.