Can Fear be Rewarded?

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Postby katiek0417 » November 13th, 2009, 9:05 pm

And, btw, I'm not running from this discussion...however, I do have about 120 exams to grade this weekend (I will willingly accept volunteer help :wink: ), and would actually like to spend some time with Greg...so if I don't get on here the rest of the weekend, it's not b/c I don't want to continue in the discussion...I'm just trying to get this crap-ola done!
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby dlynne1123 » November 13th, 2009, 9:07 pm

I think both fear and anxiety can be unintentionally reinforced.

The vets office. The dog is thinking, this sucks, the vet is gonna hurt me, go away! 'growl'

The owners, sooth and calm and say good dog, its ok its ok. Growling, turns to snapping and snapping turns to biting. All in a quick 15 minute visit. Over years of visits, this is the progression. If no soothing occurs, instead a correction or a conditioning without progression to biting, I think it can be avoided. This is fear biting, and it is encouraged and reinforced.

As for fear, both of my dogs, eventually adopted by me, b/c they were unadoptable per rescue evaluations.

Both of my dogs, if soothed or smothered on when nervous and fearful, I see them continue the behavior. If we truck along like nothing is to be afraid of, over time, the fear goes away and is replaced with confidence.

One of my girls, couldnt' even be talked to or rewarded when in public until she reached the point where she forgot where she was. She wouldn't eat, and would avoid contact with people.
After a few minutes, she would relax, a smidge, and we would run all the way back to the security of her crate.
Then she was rewarded by being taken away from the stimulus. Not food, or talk.
I didn't want to reward her frame of mind when afraid. Like a snap shot I do think they can be reinforced for what they are thinking and doing.
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Postby amazincc » November 13th, 2009, 9:08 pm

:shock:

Wow, you guys are making this sound complicated now... lol

From my experiences w/Mick, and fear aggression, the behavior/fear increased when I (unwittingly) encouraged it... trying to calm him at the vet (w/petting + baby talk, or whatever) did the opposite, and for a time he got so fearful that he started acting out as soon as he saw the building... wheras he had at least walked in the door before getting in a state prior to that.
Same w/anyone coming to our house... I usually confined him to another room or his crate instead of making him "face" the person he was afraid of. I basically isolated him from anyone and everything that scared him, so - did I not encourage him in his thinking that the world and everything in it was a very scary place?

Maybe I'm really missing the point though. :oops:
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Postby maberi » November 13th, 2009, 9:12 pm

I agree a dog might increase a reactive behavior (hiding, running to its owners) if those behaviors reduced their anxiety, fear, etc.... If that is the case, and those behaviors end up reducing the fear, (new people approaching, etc..) is this a bad thing? I would think reducing a dogs fear of something would be much harder than reducing an operant behavior (whatever that might be)

From my understanding (could be totally wrong so let me know), when we are discussing fear, there is the emotional response, which is affected by classical conditioning and the behavioral response, which is affected by operant conditioning.
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Postby maberi » November 13th, 2009, 9:14 pm

katiek0417 wrote:And, btw, I'm not running from this discussion...however, I do have about 120 exams to grade this weekend (I will willingly accept volunteer help :wink: ), and would actually like to spend some time with Greg...so if I don't get on here the rest of the weekend, it's not b/c I don't want to continue in the discussion...I'm just trying to get this crap-ola done!


Likely excuse :wink:
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Postby katiek0417 » November 13th, 2009, 10:27 pm

maberi wrote:I agree a dog might increase a reactive behavior (hiding, running to its owners) if those behaviors reduced their anxiety, fear, etc.... If that is the case, and those behaviors end up reducing the fear, (new people approaching, etc..) is this a bad thing? I would think reducing a dogs fear of something would be much harder than reducing an operant behavior (whatever that might be)

From my understanding (could be totally wrong so let me know), when we are discussing fear, there is the emotional response, which is affected by classical conditioning and the behavioral response, which is affected by operant conditioning.


I'm taking a break b/c I'm cooking...

That's what I was trying to say when I brought up drug overdoses...things don't occur in a vacuum...and everyone needs to stop acting like they do...

However, a fear response can be an operant behavior...I have successfully trained fear aggressive dogs to not fear the thing they were originally afraid of (I'm not going to use Rocky as an example because he had a messed up brain, and there was no fixing him)...I did it by doing several things...

The owner told me that every time the dog was afraid, it got aggressive, so I asked to witness this...

Then, rather than taking the dog or the feared object away when the dog was being aggressive, I made the owner ignore the dog when it got aggressive, while keeping the feared object around...as soon as the dog calmed down, the object went away...so now the feared object (bad thing) goes away when the dog is calm so that the CALMNESS is the behavior that becomes increased...in the process, hwoever, it also desensitized the dog to the object...and desensitization is a principle of classical conditioning

With a different dog that was afraid of men (but not aggressive), I used marker training to work with the dog. I had Greg sit on the ground with his back to the dog...when the dog would take the tiniest step forward, I would mark the behavior and give the treat. This way, the food WASN'T coming from Greg (if it was, then we could say that there was more classical conditioning going on)...so, coming from me, the food was an actual consequence....does that make sense?

Another thing to keep in mind is that whenever we're talking about giving or taking away something, a consequence, we're talking about operant conditioning; whenever we're talking about the association between 2 stimuli it's classical conditioning...

maberi wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:And, btw, I'm not running from this discussion...however, I do have about 120 exams to grade this weekend (I will willingly accept volunteer help :wink: ), and would actually like to spend some time with Greg...so if I don't get on here the rest of the weekend, it's not b/c I don't want to continue in the discussion...I'm just trying to get this crap-ola done!


Likely excuse :wink:


If you'd like me to send you some, I'd be more than happy to share the pain :rolleyes2:
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby maberi » November 13th, 2009, 10:42 pm

Then, rather than taking the dog or the feared object away when the dog was being aggressive, I made the owner ignore the dog when it got aggressive, while keeping the feared object around...as soon as the dog calmed down, the object went away...so now the feared object (bad thing) goes away when the dog is calm so that the CALMNESS is the behavior that becomes increased...in the process, hwoever, it also desensitized the dog to the object...and desensitization is a principle of classical conditioning


What did you categorize as CALMNESS in this situation?
Last edited by maberi on November 13th, 2009, 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby maberi » November 13th, 2009, 10:45 pm

katiek0417 wrote:With a different dog that was afraid of men (but not aggressive), I used marker training to work with the dog. I had Greg sit on the ground with his back to the dog...when the dog would take the tiniest step forward, I would mark the behavior and give the treat. This way, the food WASN'T coming from Greg (if it was, then we could say that there was more classical conditioning going on)...so, coming from me, the food was an actual consequence....does that make sense?


In this situation are you teaching the dog to step forward or to not be fearful to men?
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Postby katiek0417 » November 13th, 2009, 11:11 pm

maberi wrote:
Then, rather than taking the dog or the feared object away when the dog was being aggressive, I made the owner ignore the dog when it got aggressive, while keeping the feared object around...as soon as the dog calmed down, the object went away...so now the feared object (bad thing) goes away when the dog is calm so that the CALMNESS is the behavior that becomes increased...in the process, hwoever, it also desensitized the dog to the object...and desensitization is a principle of classical conditioning


What did you categorize as CALMNESS in this situation?


Sitting or laying down while facing the object, but not showing any aggression (no curled lips, etc)...which, if I remember correctly, is considered to be a relaxed position, according to a list that Erin had posted...

maberi wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:With a different dog that was afraid of men (but not aggressive), I used marker training to work with the dog. I had Greg sit on the ground with his back to the dog...when the dog would take the tiniest step forward, I would mark the behavior and give the treat. This way, the food WASN'T coming from Greg (if it was, then we could say that there was more classical conditioning going on)...so, coming from me, the food was an actual consequence....does that make sense?


In this situation are you teaching the dog to step forward or to not be fearful to men?


The end result was the dog went all the way up to Greg and let him pet her...so, you tell me :wink: When animals are afraid, there are two responses: fight or flight. Most won't approach...so, it took a while of her standing there with her back turned to Greg (avoidance, which is common with fear) before she would go towards him...animals, out of survival instinct won't approach things they're afraid of...I had him sit perfectly still so as not to scare her...but b/c she was approaching him, I had to assume that her fear was lessening...I then rewarded her for that...so, while I was rewarding the behavior, I was also rewarding the feeling that went with it...

Back to the exams! :wave2:
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby plebayo » November 13th, 2009, 11:14 pm

Okay, I don't think fear in itself can be rewarded, however I think a fear based behavior can.

Let's say your dog is afraid of new people, and every time you meet a new person, or walk by a new person the dog hides behind you, stops walking, cowers, etc. If you coddle the dog in this situation you are telling the dog "I like this behavior." So every time a new person comes into the picture the dog cowers, and you reinforce this behavior by petting the dog, talking to the dog etc. Then it simply becomes a conditioned response for both you and the dog because the dog cowers because that is what you have taught it to do, and you fall all over the dog cooing and petting it.

I have a dog like this and if I am super squishy and don't make her be "brave" she will fall into a puddle of no confidence and not try to do things. I don't flood her with scary things, but I make her work through whatever she is afraid of and she gets coddled afterward.

Also - it is one thing for your dog to be afraid of a thunderstorm - a legit scary thing. However I can't tell you how many dogs come in for nail trims, the owner wants to see how it's done. The dog is trying to bite us and the owner is saying "it's okay! It's okay!" No it isn't okay that your dog is trying to bite us, it isn't okay that your dog isn't holding still. Just like dog's who get afraid of certain flooring after slipping and falling instead of saying "It's okay!" you should be saying - "It's okay, I know you're afraid, but you still have to walk across this scary floor and get over it."
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Postby maberi » November 13th, 2009, 11:39 pm

Agreed, so what you are saying is that the dog isn't being rewarded for being fearful but for cowering(lowering of the head and body), hiding behind handler,etc....

plebayo wrote:Okay, I don't think fear in itself can be rewarded, however I think a fear based behavior can.
Let's say your dog is afraid of new people, and every time you meet a new person, or walk by a new person the dog hides behind you, stops walking, cowers, etc. If you coddle the dog in this situation you are telling the dog "I like this behavior." So every time a new person comes into the picture the dog cowers, and you reinforce this behavior by petting the dog, talking to the dog etc. Then it simply becomes a conditioned response for both you and the dog because the dog cowers because that is what you have taught it to do, and you fall all over the dog cooing and petting it.




You may not flood your dog with scary things, but what you are doing here by preventing the dog from escaping and forcing it to face it fears is flooding.

How do you know in the situation below the dog isn't actually "thunderstorm fearful" and is just being "unreasonable"? My guess is that this isn't fear but more like the dog has learned that biting makes the adversive go away, which has nothing to do with what we are talking about

Also - it is one thing for your dog to be afraid of a thunderstorm - a legit scary thing. However I can't tell you how many dogs come in for nail trims, the owner wants to see how it's done. The dog is trying to bite us and the owner is saying "it's okay! It's okay!" No it isn't okay that your dog is trying to bite us, it isn't okay that your dog isn't holding still. Just like dog's who get afraid of certain flooring after slipping and falling instead of saying "It's okay!" you should be saying - "It's okay, I know you're afraid, but you still have to walk across this scary floor and get over it."
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Postby plebayo » November 15th, 2009, 7:24 pm

You may not flood your dog with scary things, but what you are doing here by preventing the dog from escaping and forcing it to face it fears is flooding.


Okay then. I guess I'm in full support of flooding a dog if it means my dog gains confidence in the end.

How do you know in the situation below the dog isn't actually "thunderstorm fearful" and is just being "unreasonable"? My guess is that this isn't fear but more like the dog has learned that biting makes the adversive go away, which has nothing to do with what we are talking about


I think you have to personally know the dog you're dealing with. How would I know if the dog was being unreasonable? I would know by their body language, the sounds they are making, and know based off of their normal behavior.

Biting would be considered a fear based behavior. Yes the dog is biting to avoid something, but are they biting because they are avoiding something they are afraid of? Are you saying there is no such thing as 'fear biting' then?

Anyway no one is going to agree on this topic. You either think fear can be rewarded, or it can't be. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. We all train our dogs differently.
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