Why You Should Never Calm a Fearful Dog

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Whether it’s a thunderstorm, a fireworks display or a new vacuum cleaner, every dog is scared of something. When your best friend starts barking, cowering or hiding inside the house, you probably want to calm him and do everything possible to let him know everything is okay.

Well, research shows that consoling a scared pooch does nothing to prevent his fears from escalating. As a matter of fact, experts agree that it’s the only thing you can do to reaffirm his worries.

via funcake.org/
via funcake.org/

How to Speak Dog

According to Stan Coren, author of ‘How to Speak Dog,’ the best thing to do in that situation is absolutely nothing. Here’s what Coren had to say during his 2011 appearance on Psychology Today:

“Petting a dog when he’s acting in a fearful manner actually serves as a reward for the behavior; it’s almost as if we’re telling the dog that being afraid in this situation is the right thing to do.

Three years later, The United States Humane Society reaffirmed his thesis, adding it to their Responsible Pet Owner’s Guide. The guide advises not to give dogs any kind of positive attention in times of stress, as it will “only reinforce his or her fearful behavior.”

If you pet, soothe, or give treats to her when she’s behaving fearfully, she may interpret this as a reward for her fearful behavior. Instead, try to behave normally, as if you don’t notice her fearfulness.

Why Should You Ignore a Best Friend in Distress?

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www.rover.com

Earlier this week, a research study by US-based animal rescue groups explained why, sometimes, ignoring your pet’s cries for help is the best way to help them. It turns out that a dog’s loyalty goes far beyond the usual sense of the word.

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www.owmeow.jp

Canines trust their owners more than they trust their own instincts – their biggest indicator of safety (or its absence) is your reaction to an event. So, if they show signs of anxiety and you try to soothe them, they make the conclusion that they’re right to be scared. Meanwhile, discouraging that sort of behavior by punishing your pup can sometimes make him think you’re scared too. The study concludes:

If you pet, soothe, or give treats to her when she’s behaving fearfully, she may interpret this as a reward for her fearful behavior. Instead, try to behave normally, as if you don’t notice her fearfulness.