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Thread: Do Dogs Remember Being Bitten.

  1. #21
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    Absolutely they remember.

    My boy Lennox (staffy/boxer x who is no longer with us) was attacked when he was about 1 by a bull terrier (usually white roman nosed dogs just in case there is some confusion) and ever after he had a hatred of that breed.

    He hated them so much that whenever he saw one, he would go for it. Prior to being attacked he had no problem with them.

    I also dont go all sooky lala on them because I dont want to reinforce any stupidness (i.e. I have never comforted during fireworks or even acted like anything different is happening, I just expect them to handle it and none of them have ever been phased and have even taken part in watching the fireworks in the back yard - in NZ where it is still legal) but I was not there for the attack and I dont know how the OH handled it.

    EDIT: to fix the typo that caused the first word to be *** out
    Last edited by Lala; 07-25-2011 at 08:59 PM.

  2. #22
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    OK. I'm interested about the 'not to comfort' thingy now. When we took our dog to puppy class our trainer called this a myth. She said you can't reinforce bad feelings in a dog and it's ok to comfort them when they're sooky or reassure them when they're uncertain about something.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by margoo View Post
    OK. I'm interested about the 'not to comfort' thingy now. When we took our dog to puppy class our trainer called this a myth. She said you can't reinforce bad feelings in a dog and it's ok to comfort them when they're sooky or reassure them when they're uncertain about something.
    Its the same with children, if you comfort every little thing, they turn into wimps.

    Sure, if my dog got hit by a car or a bad injury, I would comfort them. But I dont comfort every little thing.

    Dogs react to your feelings. Lets use fireworks as an example.

    I can sit in the back yard with my dogs and watch fireworks being let off 10 metres away. The dont even flinch. Because the first time they heard them and got a bit worried, they looked to me for assurance and I didnt react so they knew it wasnt anything to worry about.

    Other people seeing the dog worried, would fawn all over them, teaching the dog that there was a reason to be anxious.

    Obviously its not a blanket thing, you cant just apply it to everything. There are times when I reassure my dogs, but its usually just with a hand on the head or the back and an "it's ok", there is no "ohhhhh its ok baby, it cant get you" etc. It's just to show them that I am calm and that means it is nothing for them to worry about.

    EDIT: It's the same with a fight. I break it up and check for injuries, but there is no fawning and usually a few minutes later the dog has "forgotten" about it.
    Last edited by Lala; 07-25-2011 at 09:00 PM.

  4. #24
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    I think there is a difference whether my dog is worried or frightened. If he is just a little worried about someone or a situation he'd give me this quick look to check how I react. It's the same look I give flight attendants when the plane shakes like crazy In that case I just act normal and calm and that's usually reassurance enough for him. If he is really frightened (like at the vet) I would find it cruel to ignore him though and do comfort him. Perhaps it's just one of these things people have different views about. I don't even believe comforting makes children wusses

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by margoo View Post
    I think there is a difference whether my dog is worried or frightened. If he is just a little worried about someone or a situation he'd give me this quick look to check how I react. It's the same look I give flight attendants when the plane shakes like crazy In that case I just act normal and calm and that's usually reassurance enough for him. If he is really frightened (like at the vet) I would find it cruel to ignore him though and do comfort him. Perhaps it's just one of these things people have different views about. I don't even believe comforting makes children wusses
    And there goes the vicious cycle. He is frightened at the vet and you comfort him reinforcing the fact that there is "something" for him to be fightened of.

    IMO all that is needed to reassure the dog, is to see you calm about the situation.

    Like I said earlier, that isnt going to apply all the time and there are times when some full on cuddles are needed

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by margoo View Post
    When we took our dog to puppy class our trainer called this a myth. She said you can't reinforce bad feelings in a dog and it's ok to comfort them when they're sooky or reassure them when they're uncertain about something.
    1. Did the trainer give a reason as to why you cannot reinforce fear?

    2. If you cannot reinforce bad feelings does that mean you can't reinforce good ones?

    3. Have you ever seen a dog 'comfort' another one? (Even a mum with pups will let them do there own thing, they yelp or cry, the mum checks to make sure they are in one piece and thats it)

    4. Just a point from my view, a reinforcement makes the action the dog is performing more likely to happen again. Patting the dog when it is worried about something makes it more likely for the dog to be worried again because that is what it perceives as the right thing to do. (I have seen way to many dogs who are fear aggressive, or just fearful, for this exact reason.)

    I'm not having a go at you, just curious about different trainers and their different opinions .
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semihuman. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." - Edward Hoagland

  7. #27
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    She gave us a newspaper article on this one, which I unfortunately can't find anymore.

    Whether you can reinforce good emotions or not I'm not sure but it kind of makes sense to me that you can't 'teach' emotions at all. I think you can teach a behavior or a reaction to an emotion but probably not the emotion itself. I have never seen a dog comfort another one but then I don't have such extensive experience with dogs. I have seen cats comforting each other when one came home from a surgery sick and scared though.

    I didn't think you had a go at me. Having a fearful dog I'm genuinely interested in this topic. Although I would like to add that he has improved immensely in the past year, which makes me actually really proud of him He used to be scared of literally everything and now we have only a few things to deal with (vet definitely being one)

    Lala, I agree that seeing a calm and confident owner helps a concerned dog. It's the reassurance that can help a concerned dog to experience a situation and get out at the other end with nothing serious happening.

    But I believe a genuinely frightened dog shaking with fear has passed this stage and is no longer able learn - that a situation is not as threatening as it may seem. I think that fear literally prevents learning as all system are in 'survival' mode. In that case I would probably try to remove the dog from the situation if there is a chance.

  8. #28
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    How did the dog get to the fear stage though?

    To me, it is likely the dog got there by havign a mollycoddling owner who reassures and comforts far too much.

    What initially started as a "concern" of the dog has been exacerbated by an owner pandering to the dogs concern causing it to exponentially grow into severe fear.

    I dont think you are necessarily "rewarding" the fear and encouraging that behaviour. More that you are providing confirmation to the dog that there is a reason for that fear.

    Obviously, as in my previous answers, that is not going to apply to all situations and in some cases it wouldt matter how the owner responded the dog will still develop the irrational fear.

    I guess it all just depends on what you buy into. But I will say, I didn't even know what a "fear period/phase" was until I joined this forum because, I kid you not, none of my dogs have ever had a fear period growing up....I can't say that this is because I dont "over comfort", but I can't say it isnt either ;P. Or perhaps they did and I was too busy not mollycoddling to notice LMAO

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lala View Post
    How did the dog get to the fear stage though?
    To me, it is likely the dog got there by having a mollycoddling owner who reassures and comforts far too much.
    Or a Vet who repeatedly performed painful treatments from a young age.

    Ehm, I'm not absolutely sure what you actually mean by mollycodling. I actually rather see it as a distraction. If a situation is worrying for my dog like when I walk along a road and see a truck (or whatever scares him) coming I would make him sit at a safe distance to watch the truck passing by, praise him for siting calmly and treat him. If I have a nice snack to offer he takes his attention away from the scary truck approaching and hopefully connects that something positive happens in the presence of trucks.

    I just believe in what I saw working which is basically reassurance and desensitizing by small steps. Never mind no two dogs are the same, but for mine it worked.
    Last edited by margoo; 07-26-2011 at 09:18 PM.

  10. #30
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    dogs do remember.

    My dog remembers who has the treats at our local dog park. She also remembers what happens if she stays too long trying to cadge treats.

    It took me quite a bit of work to get her to like italian greyhounds after she got beaten up several times by one really stupid italian greyhound.

    She remembers which dogs are fun to play with, and which ones are rough and which cars carry friends. And what the lawn mower man's car sounds like.

    You can encourage fearful behaviour in two ways, you can encourage it by rewarding the dog with stuff it likes, so it will do what you like in order to get what it wants ie act anxious.

    Or you can scold or physically punish a dog for acting fearful, anxious or aggressive and this will deepen the trauma.

    The best thing you can do if your dog is acting fearful when you think it should be relaxed is a combination of making more distance between you and the scary distraction and rewarding any calm behaviour - ie what you really want, not the anxious stuff. Ignore the anxious behaviour while making sure your dog and any other dog/person is safe (prevent fear biting or attack by your frightened dog).

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