What is a +CER and Why do I care?

Many good trainers still get their knickers in knot over Classical Conditioning. The latest jargon which has become very popular in dog training circles is the “CER”, which stands for Conditioned Emotional Response”. This is used particularly when you have a nervous or fearful dog that has very negative associations with various harmless things. You want to teach your dog that wheelie bins are associated with “good stuff” rather than “bad stuff”. This is what a +CER is all about. The + stands for “positive”.

Kim Pike's Positive Paws

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Sometimes the dog training lingo can be a little overwhelming. As in many fields, the professionals seem to have their own language that is not easily or readily understood by the public at large. Dog trainers are no different. To make it worse, we use acronyms to avoid spelling out those long words. I am as guilty as any other dog training professional of writing OC in place of Operant Conditioning or CC&D for Counter Conditioning and Desensitization.

An acronym that has been coming up a lot recently is +CER. To a pet dog owner, that could mean anything from “Add Correct Energy Reaction” to “Increase Carrots, Eggs and Radishes”.

So what exactly IS a +CER?

A CER is a conditioned emotional response. It is a learned, emotional reaction. It is a subset of classical conditioning because the subject makes a reflexive association with the trigger. There is no behavior…

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About transformational1

I have many interests and I have had a varied career. I am a semi-retired professional dog trainer, specialising in the use of positive reinforcement. I do some consultations, I run instructor workshops and I am setting up a Dogs and Psychotherapy Research Project. I have a law degree from Melbourne University (but have never practiced) and I am passionate about Human Rights. My first degree was in Sociology. I worked as a social researcher on issues such as low income housing, women's refuges and women in the workforce. I live in an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and I have a German Shepherd called Chance.
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