As I told you below, I am going to share with you information from an article from BARK MAGAZINE Sept./Oct. 2008 in the Both Ends of the Leash section entitled: "I'm Okay You're Okay: A gentle hand or a tasty treat doesn't reinforce fear, it reduces it" by well-known dog behaviorist, Patricia B. McConnell, PhD. (who must be a great person because she owns Border Collies!)
What caught my attention about this article is the fact that it goes against the typical teaching of not coddling your dog if it is scared of something because you will reward the scared behavior. This never settled well with me. What good would it do my dog if she was petrified of something and all I did was try to drag her up the road and scold her? Would it make her any less fearful? No it would not. It would seem like it would cause the dog to also have bad feelings towards me... maybe lack of trust. Anyway, fear not! Patricia says that this old dog training myth is NOT TRUE!!!
Patricia writes that "it seems logical, in a cut-and-dry, stimulus-and-response kind of way" *** that "your dog hears thunder, he runs to you and you pet him," *** thus reinforcing this fearful behavior in your dog. Patricia says that this is not what happens at all. She assures us that "no amount of petting is going to make it worthwhile to your dog to feel panicked." *** It is not fun for us to feel fear, and worse when someone belittles us for it. Fear is no more fun for dogs either! The reason we feel fear is to inform the body that there is probably danger ahead. This fear feeling helps us to react appropriately to deal with the danger and the accompanying fear. For example: the basic fear responses, Fight/Flight/Freeze.
I love the example Patricia uses to get us humans to see how this really works: She writes this: "imagine you're eating ice cream when someone tries to break into your house at midnight. Would the pleasure of eating ice cream 'reinforce' you for being afraid so that you'd be more afraid next time?" ***Then she goes on to say that the opposite would probably happen instead... you would "develop an unconscious discomfort around ice cream," or even around that time of night. ***This makes perfect sense.