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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-11-2018, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Comforting a fearful dog ...

Interesting blog post from Denise Fenzi today. So often we are told that trying to calm a fearful dog with petting, holding or comforting sounds will only reinforce the fearful behavior, yet it is instinctual for us humans to do just that! Denise feels that is a myth, and I agree. My dogs both look to me for reassurance and I give it freely when they are upset or afraid.

https://denisefenzi.com/2018/11/im-s...you-right-now/
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-11-2018, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by cishepard View Post
Interesting blog post from Denise Fenzi today. So often we are told that trying to calm a fearful dog with petting, holding or comforting sounds will only reinforce the fearful behavior, yet it is instinctual for us humans to do just that! Denise feels that is a myth, and I agree. My dogs both look to me for reassurance and I give it freely when they are upset or afraid.

https://denisefenzi.com/2018/11/im-s...you-right-now/
I agree! Denise is a smart lady!


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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-12-2018, 11:38 AM
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Thanks for the link. It's an interesting article. I have to admit that I only got 80% when I took the short quiz - missed 2 question on counter conditioning.

What is one supposed to do when the dog shows fear and when you notice what is making her fearful is actually something dangerous? Such as a charging dog? I've had this happened a couple of times where I've had to just yank her up by the harness into my arms. I've read that this is also dangerous, but it was just instinctual for me to do.



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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-12-2018, 12:39 PM
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You need to reword that. You can reinforce the behavoir but you cannot reinforce the fear. Here is more on this It is not possible to reinforce an animal's fear by paying attention to him or trying to reassure him. see article by Dr. Suzanne Hetts http://www.fearfuldogs.com/fearstudy.html

Also a word from Jean Donaldson taken from her 10 Myths About Dogs Myth number 6. If you pat your dog while he is afraid, you are rewarding the fear
Fear is an emotional state-a reaction to the presence or anticipation of something highly
aversive. It is not an attempt at manipulation. If terrorists enter a bank and order
everybody down on the floor, the people will exhibit fearful behavior.
If I then give a bank customer on the floor a compliment, 20 bucks, or chocolates, is
this going to make them more afraid of terrorists next time? It is stunningly narcissistic
to imagine that a dog's fearful behavior is somehow directed at us (along with his
enthusiastic door-dashing).

That being said , doing these sort of things do not solve the problem either. Even though he is not afraid of thunder, this article gives an idea of the type of counter conditioning involved in noise related fears. It's by Dr. Patricia O'Connnell ... http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/thu...a-in-dogs.html
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-12-2018, 12:42 PM
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another article by Nichole Wilde
I recently received an email asking whether I had any books that addressed how to help a dog who was grieving. Since I don’t, I searched online to find an article that might be of help. What I found surprised me. Although there was solid advice, one of the recommendations in almost every article was to be careful so as not to inadvertently “reward the behavior” by giving the dog attention. Really? Hmm.Let’s see. As it happens, my best girlfriend’s mother just passed away. I will be spending the day with her today. I expect she will be sad, and that we will discuss things, and that I will comfort her, because that is what friends do. Now, of course dogs are not people and we can’t comfort them with words, but the emotions of loss and grief are the same, to whatever extent and however they are experienced by animals and people. Why in the world would we not comfort a grieving dog?

Although rewarding a dog with attention can reinforce a behavior, it does not reinforce an emotion. This reminds me of the persistent myth about reinforcing fear. Time after time I have read articles and books that warn that when a dog is afraid, the best thing to do is ignore him so as not to “reinforce the fear.” Although presenting a nervous demeanor yourself while giving your dog attention could cause him to be more nervous, sitting calmly with him and stroking him is certainly not going to cause him to become fearful more often. What it might well do is actually comfort him.

It is wonderful that we have so much advice readily available at our fingertips. But even when an “expert” advises you to do something you feel in your gut is simply not right when it comes to the emotional life of your dog, heed that instinct. You know your dog best, and rewarding with attention does not make you a reinforcer of emotion. It makes you a kind, compassionate person

Nichole Wilde
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-12-2018, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie from Concrete, WA View Post
Thanks for the link. It's an interesting article. I have to admit that I only got 80% when I took the short quiz - missed 2 question on counter conditioning.

What is one supposed to do when the dog shows fear and when you notice what is making her fearful is actually something dangerous? Such as a charging dog? I've had this happened a couple of times where I've had to just yank her up by the harness into my arms. I've read that this is also dangerous, but it was just instinctual for me to do.
yeah Jackie, with a charging dog, do anything you can do to block the charging dog and if you have to pick up your dog fine. For fearful dogs here is some info https://eileenanddogs.com/2013/11/10...rconditioning/

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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-13-2018, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the links, Dave. I appreciate it, good reading.


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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-13-2018, 02:32 PM
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Yes Dave - I ditto what Ci said. Thanks.



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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 08:50 PM
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When I started doing research on how to handle our puppy’s separation anxiety, I was surprised to come across information that encouraged picking him up. For so long I’d read all of the advice to just let him be and wait until he calmed down to greet him when we came home. The first time I just picked him up right when we walked in he calmed down so quickly! He was still a little frantic, but he held still in my arms and didn’t bark or try to jump. After just a few times of just picking him up instead of ignoring him, it took him less than a minute to completely relax. Now I can pick him up, greet him, set him back down, and give him an instruction to sit or do a trick and he will follow it. Before it was like everything I said went out the window for 15 minutes.

Since this experience, I find myself a lot more skeptical of advice that minimizes a dog’s reasonable responses to stress. It’s part of why barking out the window is still hard for me - I see it now as a reasonable response, both alerting and greeting, yet I know I need to teach him what to do when he doesn’t get the response he’s expecting through the glass. It’s a slow process while I work it out, but we’re getting there. (Several articles on this topic were also posted here that make a lot more sense than popular advice).

I always appreciate these articles because these things are so complex and some of the hardest issues for me to break down and wrap my mind around. In huge part because of so much conflicting information out there!
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by EvaE1izabeth View Post
When I started doing research on how to handle our puppy’s separation anxiety, I was surprised to come across information that encouraged picking him up. For so long I’d read all of the advice to just let him be and wait until he calmed down to greet him when we came home. The first time I just picked him up right when we walked in he calmed down so quickly! He was still a little frantic, but he held still in my arms and didn’t bark or try to jump. After just a few times of just picking him up instead of ignoring him, it took him less than a minute to completely relax. Now I can pick him up, greet him, set him back down, and give him an instruction to sit or do a trick and he will follow it. Before it was like everything I said went out the window for 15 minutes.

Since this experience, I find myself a lot more skeptical of advice that minimizes a dog’s reasonable responses to stress. It’s part of why barking out the window is still hard for me - I see it now as a reasonable response, both alerting and greeting, yet I know I need to teach him what to do when he doesn’t get the response he’s expecting through the glass. It’s a slow process while I work it out, but we’re getting there. (Several articles on this topic were also posted here that make a lot more sense than popular advice).

I always appreciate these articles because these things are so complex and some of the hardest issues for me to break down and wrap my mind around. In huge part because of so much conflicting information out there!
I think we also have to remember that dogs, like humans, are individuals, and do not all respond the same way. One has to try different things with their own dog to see what works. (I have also found that what works one day may not the following week. That is a whole other story, having to do with potty training). Regarding separation anxiety, I found Zumba responded extremely well to me ignoring her until she stopped barking but the minute she stopped, I was right there to pick her up and give her loving. I only had that problem that first time I had to leave her for a spell. After that, she barks her “hello” to me when I return home and then waits for me to come get her. But if that had not worked, I would have gone to your approach next. And if that had not worked, I would have tried something else. I think the books and articles are guidelines and offers good insights, but are not cast in stone, the same way I feel about books that tell people how to raise their child.
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