Definitions for all levels
We use some very specific terms with particular meanings when we talk about Cooperative Care work. Here’s a short dictionary of the basics so that we are all on the same page:
Classical Conditioning – A type of learning that is focused more on emotional associations than on behaviors. We are concerned with how the dog feels rather than what he does.
Consent – Consent implies a willingness to engage in and remain in an activity. A dog who voluntarily remains during grooming, for example, is consenting to the process. We work to teach specific consent behaviors that let us know whether or not our dogs are comfortable with procedures.
Cooperative care – An approach to grooming and veterinary care that encourages the dog to be an active partner in the process. In cooperative care training we are constantly monitoring our dog’s comfort level to be sure that he remains an eager and willing partner in the process.
Handling – Any procedure that requires physical touch and/or restraint is referred to as handling.
Husbandry – A general overall term for grooming and veterinary procedures. Husbandry refers to processes that maintain and improve the animal’s physical health and well-being.
Mark / marker – A signal, often a sound such as a word or phrase, that indicates to our dogs that they are performing a desired behavior and that a reward will be forthcoming.
Positive Reinforcement/Reinforcer – A reinforcer is anything that the dog will work to obtain. We most often use food as a reinforcer for desired behaviors. The term positive refers to adding (giving) something to the dog that he wants.
Positive conditioned emotional response (+CER) – The development of a pleasant association with a situation or procedure. We can use classical conditioning techniques to help our dogs develop +CERs to husbandry procedures.
Reinforce – The act of providing the dog with a desired resource (such as food).