Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dog Tips: Reassurance or Ignorance

One of the things commonly done by pet lovers and owners is to hug or comfort the dog or puppy when it is scared. As Cesar Millan would say, giving affection to a scared/ aggressive/ fearful dog is nurturing that state of mind. In short, if the puppy is doing something you do not like him to do, it's always best to ignore him so he will understand that his behavior is not good.

Unlike humans, dogs and pack animals are unable to rationalize that our giving of affection to them is a sign of comfort. We've all heard of trainers and dog experts talking about the reward system. Getting frustrated towards a dog will make him think you're excited rather than angry. This also means that immediate correction is more effective than punishing a dog a little while later. 

Some books have mentioned that if you are giving a dog affection at the wrong time such as in a fearful or aggressive state, this will give the dog reason to believe that he should be scared or protective of something. 

As the mommy or daddy of the pack, it is important that your pooches can feel secure with you- and I'm not just implying financial security. Like us humans who need to feel safe under our government's reign, dogs need to know that their pack leaders can control their surroundings 
  • My pack leader is here so these dogs sniffing me won't do anything to me.
  • The mailman will not steal the mail.
  • I don't need to be bark at the visitors because my pack leader has control over the territory.
And with such protection comes discipline and rules they have to follow such as:
  • No biting or nipping because the pack leader gets mad at me.
  • The pack leader will always lead the walk.
  • The pack leader does not want me to do this or he will snap at me again.
As for my personal experience, I believe one of the reason why Peanuts doesn't beg for food anymore is because she is being completely ignored whenever she does it. Her potty training went pretty fast as well, since every time I catch her doing her business on the paper, I instantly croon "Good Girl" and she approaches me for a good stroke on the back.


  1. I so enjoy your blog, it's such a thought provoking read! I don't agree with Cesar Millan's work. When Nola acts up she NEEDS to focus on me, and I can't give her the command to do so if I ignore her. Can't wait to see what you'll post next, keep up the good work!
    Dachshund Nola

  2. Thanks Nola. My sister is here at the moment, which is why I've been a bit busy to respond ASAP.

    I'll be resting a little on those type of posts to introduce the other members of my pack.

    You're right, dogs need to focus on their pack leader or mommy ^_^ to be corrected. I think a mix of ignorance, correction and reward works for me because I haven't learned it all yet. Not one technique can suit all dogs or all behaviors.

  3. Ooohhhhhh, so when the government says stuff that gasses up the people they are being bad pack leaders! I like that analogy!

    Great blog post!

  4. Hi Y'all,

    Hmmm...gotta keep my Human Papa from seeing this post...especially about "ignoring" Human uses that constantly but my Papa complains and wants Momma to "get with it" and "shut him up". Sigh...

    Yep, barking is my evil "no no".

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. Very thought provoking post, Haopee. I guess you could say it's the same with children lol

  6. I disagree. I do not think it's possible to reinforce a psychological state, such as fear.

    Read more here:

  7. I agree with some of the stuff Cesar does in some cases, in other cases I believe positive enforcement works best. I totally agree with, if your dog, yuki for instance is barking when she shouldn't. I don't comfort her and say, 'its okay'. In her mind, I'm only telling her that her that state of mind is correct. That's why I tell her in a stern voice 'quiet!', to let her know I'm displeased with her behavior.

  8. Have a fun time with your sister, and I can't wait to learn more about the rest of your darlings, but I too am looking forward to your next educational post.


  9. Thanks for the great info.:)

    Teddy Bear & Sierra

  10. @Rumpy: Hey, you have a good point there! Unfortunately, the government is not lead by a single pack leader. So we can't just say that all of them there are bad pack leaders or good pack leaders either.

    @Hawky: Lol, Hawky. Ignorance is not always the best solution. Dogs have the gift of persistence and independence. So if humans will just ignore them all the time(especially on behaviors wherein they do not want attention and just want to do something undesirable), those humans will just end up with a very misbehaved doggy.

    @Carolyn: Yes, I'm a little overwhelmed with the comments because they're a little too many to handle on a Sunday because I like responding to each and every single one of you. Thank you for the compliment.

    @Tegan: Great follow-up! So accordingly, what Dr. Estep was talking about was when you reassure your dog while something he's afraid of occurs, the reassurance will not increase the fear. "A dog will act afraid when it is afraid."

    The term nurturing is synonymous with augmenting or developing. And I would agree that this was the wrong word to use in the post. But are you also saying that when giving the dog assurance while he is afraid of something, he will not think being afraid of it is okay?

    I admire Dr. Esteps explanation as it's one aspect I will be looking into. It would've been better if the experiment he cited pertained to dogs. Rats aren't as domesticated as dogs. And if they were, the way we treat them compared to how we've been treating dogs are completely different.

    Next, he mentioned that some humans act fearful and helpless just to get attention. He said that it doesn't seem true for animals. With that, don't dogs sometimes put their head on top of our laps or sit down in front of us to give them some time? Isn't asking for play time considered attention seeking?

    And if it holds true for fear, will this concept also apply to excitement and aggressiveness?

    @Y&R: Yes, as I've said earlier, no one technique would be applicable to all dogs or all behaviors or ALL HUMANS ^_^. So it doesn't matter how you teach your dog, as long as you get your point across to them without any form of violence or torture involved... and as much as possible, without anger or frustration either.

    @Bert: Thanks, Bert.

    I love posting about something people generally want to learn about and I'm glad that you guys are further contributing by adding more references and explanations.

    Agree or disagree, it just makes me happy that my posts are being read and I am given more information to consider ^_^.

    @Teddy: You're welcome, cute American Eskimos.

    Phew, Happy SUNDAY!!!

    Huggies and Cheese,


  11. Hi there Haopee,

    I'm no Dog Psychologist, cos I'm just a Dog - but I do know that when I'm scared of something that I'll run and find my Mum and hide behind her leg and it will all be ok again!! I like knowing that she'll protect me.... :)

    Hope you're having a fun weekend,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  12. I like petting when I are scaired. :)

  13. The argument goes that you can't reward a psychological state. I can't reward you for feeling happy, I can't reward you for feeling scared, I can't reward you for feeling angry.

    I -could- reward your smiles, I could reward your avoidance behaviour, I could reward your aggressive behaviour.

    Psychological states (i.e. how you feel) can't really be rewarded, but behaviours associated with those psychological states can.

    Classical conditioning says that we can associate one thing with another thing... So we can associate the smell of food with eating, and the clang of the letterbox with getting mail. Furthermore, if these associations are good, it may change how we feel about it... So, if we LIKE getting mail, then we'd like the sound of a clanging letterbox.

    But this can also go into fear... I could associate bees with fear, but if you feed me chocolate around bees enough time, I'm going to start liking bees a lot.

    So, this is how I would summarise my thoughts:
    We could reward dogs for acting fearful, but we're not actually rewarding them for feeling scared. What we are more likely to be doing is getting them to associate good things with scary things, and this may reduce their feelings of fear and also their fearful behaviours over time.

  14. @Snoops & Keisha: Most dogs who've lived long enough with their humans as pack leaders seek security and comfort from them.

    @Tegan: Lol, I had a hard time narrowing the gist of your previous comment which is why I had such a long response.

    But your most recent answer is something I totally agree on. The psychological states or the "feeling" cannot be rewarded but the action/ behavior/outlook can be.

    Huggies and Cheese,



We've turned of word verification of temporarily, but we've limited comments to registered users.

Huggies and Cheese, CEO Chooey