Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't feed the Freakout

For my kids, I refer to this as "Don't feed the monster." That is when they are throwing a fit, don't add to the problem, more attention just gets you a bigger monster in the end.

If you have a frightened dog, you have to show the dog the right emotion for the situation and not sympathize with the dog. I know this sounds harsh, but pitying a dog only teaches the dog that he is pitiful.

When I get a timid or freaked out dog, I don't put them back in their runs. That only reinforces the idea that running and hiding is acceptable and good. Instead I separate them from the other dogs. Then I rub the dog all over and talk to them in a rabidly happy voice that tells them that I think there is absolutely nothing wrong, that everything is good, happy, and supposed to be this way. Most people go to their dogs with sympathy and try to comfort the dog when is it upset. This is the right approach for the toddler that has just scraped his knee and needs mom to kiss the owie away, but it is exactly the wrong thing to do with a dog. Dog don’t need or want commiserating, they need to be shown what their mood should be. Dogs are more empathetic in picking up our moods. So being happy around a frightened dog and they will become happier. Sit and sympathize with their fear and their fear will increase.

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