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Old August 20th, 2008, 10:07 AM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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Interesting article, but I've got anecdotal evidence that refutes two of the points...at least to my satisfaction.

myth #3, about our behavior not affecting Pack relations: When Macie arrived after being rescued from isolation in a kennel for a year, she was tremedously shy of people and dogs. She was okay if they were around, but the minute the other dogs tried to play or even sniff her, she went into a quasi-catatonic state. One of the things we did to help her out was raise her status from the bottom of the Pack's social order where she was, to somewhere in the middle. So when I brushed the dogs, she went 4th instead of 6th (we didn't have Brier and Grace then). When we trained, she went 4th instead of 6th. When they got their toys or chews, she got hers 4th in line instead of 6th. Did that change her status automatically? Probably not, but it gave her the confidence to take her own place off the bottom rung in the social standings. So our behavior can affect social position in the Pack.

The other debunking that I thought was a little thin was #6, the part about 'rewarding' fear. Actually, I think the author didn't quite have the take on the myth itself in this one.

Quote:
6) If you pat your dog when hes afraid, youre 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 behaviour. 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? Its stunningly narcissistic to imagine that a dogs fearful behaviour is somehow directed at us (along with his enthusiastic door-dashing).
If you coddle the dog with sympathy, cooing, etc, it's not that you're rewarding the fear, but validating to the dog that there's something to be afraid of. At least, that's how it appears to me from watching our dogs over the years. Patting in itself can be useful, though. I pat them all the time if they're nervous. Confident body language (mine), a quick pat, and a cheerful "It's nothing, go settle" will often at least calm them enough to get them to lie down. During the thunderstorms or the fireworks they still tremble, but at least they aren't pacing or trying to dig through the floor or all trying to climb into my lap at the same time.

Not very scientific, but enough to convince me... I tend to believe what I see.
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