What’s the Best Help for Fearful and Shy Dogs?

Most anyone who works with dogs in a professional capacity knows that fear motivates behavior in a variety of situations.  Dogs that struggle and snap during nail trims, are difficult to restrain for blood draws, or growl or threaten other dogs that approach too closely are more often fearful than not. 

Dog owners sometimes fail to recognize not only the not so obvious signs of fear, but the significance of them as well.  In the “Preparing Your Dog for Your New Baby” class we teach at several local hospitals, we point out to expectant parents that if their dog gets up and leaves if the baby crawls in the dog’s direction, this is a clear sign the dog is uncomfortable with the child’s presence.

The other side of the coin is that, at least in some circles, fear is cited as motivating behavior even when there are no observable signs of fear.  For example, some folks believe that despite offensive body postures, a threatening dog is actually fearful and is choosing an “I”ll get you before you get me” tactic. 

Because we can’t ask animals how they are feeling, we use physiologic and behavioral measures to make inferences about their emotional states.  If folks are now claiming we can no longer rely on these indicators then it seems we are back to anthropomorphic guess work in our efforts to determine whether an animal’s behaviors are fear related or not.

This is just one of several thorny issues we’ll be discussing in our upcoming three session webinar course “Understanding and Helping Fearful Animals” beginning this Thursday, April 14th at 3pm Mountain time.  A second is the long-held belief that reassuring a fearful animal “rewards” the fear.  While there is good evidence to the contrary, a recent article about the experience of pain in children finds that “reassurance is associated with increased child distress”.  What’s up with that?  We’ll tell you in the course. 

A third trend we’ll be discussing is the increased tendency to casually assign what are very specific diagnostic labels from human medicine, such as PTSD, to behaviors in dogs without strong evidence for doing so.  Is this helpful or harmful and why?  The same thing has happened with the term “learned helplessness” which is a fear related topic we’ll be discussing.

Our ability to help fearful animals is compromised if we are confused about recognizing fear when we see it – or not – and claiming the presence of related conditions without a thorough understanding of them. 

This is not your “Same-Old-Info-About-Fear” webinar.  Come join us on Thursday April 14th and we’ll give you a look at the latest techniques for fear related problems, from pheromones to “cross motivational transfer” (what the heck is that!)   Don’t miss this opportunity to catch up with new findings and ask the questions you want answered about fearful behavior. 

Can’t attend live?  No worries – you’ll have access to the recorded replays and the ability to submit questions before the next session. 

See the full course description, and Register right now by Clicking Here   

As always, Pro members of our Behavior Education Network (BEN) get a 20% discount on the course registration AND perpetual access to the class! 

If you are a BEN member you MUST register from within BEN to receive your discount.  Click HERE for your log in page.

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