Scanning through Facebook this morning I saw a friend had tagged me in a dog video. I get that a lot, everyone who knows me, knows I am dog mad. So I click on it and start watching………
I watched about half of it before closing it.
Because all I saw was stressed dogs. Dogs throwing themselves on the floor to avoid something they perceive as scary. Dogs being dragged towards that scary thing and people laughing because it is hilarious right…..
Those dogs are terrified but because they aren’t growling or biting it’s ok and even funny.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Those dogs are experiencing something called learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is where a dog has been repeatedly exposed to a scary object and has learned he no longer has control over the adverse situation. The dog shuts down and becomes helpless, knowing he can’t change the outcome.
Imagine feeling like that, horrible right!?
You see this a lot in old school dog training. The dog is forced into a situation, again and again, it tries all the options it knows to avoid it but nothing works, so eventually, the dog shuts down.
This DOES NOT mean the problem is solved. In fact, it is likely to create many other problems.
A perfect example of this is Cesar Milan, a man I am not keen on!
In one of his episodes, he was working with a Great Dane who was afraid of slippery floors. The lady worked in a school and wanted to be able to take her dog to work occasionally.
A dog being scared of slippery floors makes perfect sense! Most dogs struggle to walk on slippery floors, especially a large breed like a Great Dane!
So what did the ‘wonderful’ Cesar (I’m being sarcastic) do……He forced that Great Dane to walk on the floor. Dragging him around while that dog was petrified!
At the end, he claims the dog was fixed and it showed a video of Cesar and this woman walking the Great Dane down the corridor.
Most people would say ‘Wow, he is a miracle worker’
What did I see….A dog who was still terrified, he had just realised that he had no choice in the matter.
That dog was experiencing learned helplessness.
Imagine you are terrified of spiders and I lock you in a tiny room full of them. After shouting and screaming, clawing at the walls you eventually learn that nothing works. You sit in a corner, crying, shaking and rocking backwards and forwards.
When you come out of that room are you magically cured of your fear of spiders…….Nope!!
In fact it is likely to make it worse!
This happens a lot with groomers and head collars but I will talk about that later.
So if your dog ever refuses to walk near something, then stop. Don’t force them to approach it you are only going to cause more problems. Contact me for help to solve the problem fully.