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Is Counterconditioning just Tolerance Training?

Counter conditioning is a process whereby an unwanted response to a stimulus is conditioned into a wanted response to the same stimulus. At its most simple, it can involve requiring an animal to ‘perform’ a particular trained behavior to a stimulus for which they previously learned to perform a different behavior.
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In this Webinar 

However, more frequently it is used as a behavior modification technique with the aim of changing an animal’s emotional response to stimuli which evoke negative emotions. The challenge, when using counter conditioning, is that often we are only able to monitor the animal’s behavioral response; and so it can be very difficult to determine whether counter conditioning of the emotional response is occurring, or in fact the animal is simply becoming more tolerant of the stimulus.

  • Does this matter? If so, why?
  • How is tolerance training different from counter conditioning?
  • And why is it important for us to appreciate that difference?


These are some of the questions we will explore in this webinar.

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will be able to apply the knowledge to clinical cases
  • Attendees will be able to create their own targeted case work up plans using counter conditioning
  • Attendees will be able to recognize when the aims of counter conditioning may not be being fulfilled as intended, integrating the knowledge gained to modify plans accordingly.

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Continuing Educational Units (CEUs) are not available if you purchase the recording.
Meet the instructor

Dr. Kathy Murphy

Dr Kathy Murphy (BVetMed, DPhil, CVA, CLAS, MRCVS) is a veterinary surgeon and neuroscientist. She graduated from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons UK in 1999, initially working in mixed clinical practice before studying for two post graduate clinical qualifications with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, and Laboratory Animal Science. In 2009 she was awarded a highly prestigious Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship to study for her PhD, in Behavioral Neuroscience, at The Queens College, University of Oxford, UK. She subsequently worked in the USA as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Anesthesiology at the Icahn School of Medicine NYC, where her research into the long term effects of anesthesia on learning and memory contributed to a change to the safety advice for the use of general anesthesia in children.

Dr. Murphy moved back to the UK in 2013, to take up clinical-academic positions at the University of Oxford and subsequently Newcastle University, and concurrently completed a Residency in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia with the European College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, during which she became increasingly interested in how pain re-models the nervous system and this can manifest as behavioral problems in pets.

Alongside these positions Dr. Murphy founded, and is now Director of, Barking Brains Ltd (a neuroscience outreach platform for the animal behavior and training community), which focuses on translating neuroscientific information into practical and useful information for people interested in animal behavior. In order to maximize the impact of her diverse interests and skill set, Dr. Murphy teamed up with Behavior Vets in early 2022 when she took up the position of Chief Scientific Officer. She is now able to focus on her new found passion for science communication and providing evidence based, up to date, accessible, scientific information to clinicians, animal professionals and their clients, about subjects related to pain, behavior, neurobiology and the many interrelated factors.

In addition to Dr. Murphy’s primary career roles she was Trustee and Veterinary Advisor to the Rottweiler Welfare Association for 14 years; is co-founder of Ethics First (a collective which lobbies for ethical decision making in clinical practice); is an Oversight Committee Member for the UK Dog Behavior and Training Charter; a guest lecturer in Clinical Animal Behavior at the University of Edinburgh, UK; lectures internationally; sits on numerous National and International boards, working groups and ethical review panels; is an ad-hoc reviewer for neuroscience, veterinary medicine and anesthesia and pain journals; and continues to collaborate on research projects.

Dr. Murphy lives in the UK with her husband Elliot (ret. Search and Rescue handler and now scentwork and mantrailing trainer) and their 4 dogs: Nancy a Rottweiler mix, Zebedee and Nela the German Shorthaired Pointers and Albi a Weimaraner.
Patrick Jones - Course author