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I think there's actually a very fine line when it comes to "rewarding" fearful behavior.

You can't reward fear itself, really. It is an emotion, so no dog will think "wow, it's really rewarding to be afraid".

What you CAN sometimes accidentally reward is the behavior (barking, lunging) **BUT** only if the dog is freely engaging in that behavior. If the dog is simply reacting on his fear, without thinking, giving treats is harmless because the dog isn't behaving consciously therefore that behavior can't really be rewarded. What the treats do is try to change the dog's emotional state so that the dog feels safe enough to think, at which point you can work on behavior.

...hopefully that makes sense??

An example would be my reactive dog. When we started working with our trainer he jumped out of the car in full-on bark/lunge/growl mode. We simply moved as far away as we needed, so he could see the trainers but wasn't freaking out and fed him treat after treat. Then we moved and did it again. And again. No matter what he was doing, if he could see those women he was getting treats.

Then, one day we got out of the car. As usual, he went into bark/growl/lunge mode. We did our little jog to get the heck out of dodge...but this time, Chisum wanted to go back. He would trot over there, right up to my trainer and put on his little show. This was the woman with the treats, after all.

At that point, we switched gears. If he barked, he was jogged away. When he returned, my trainer asked him to sit - he gladly complied - and he got a treat. Before long, he was sitting and downing and whatever else they asked because he wasn't afraid any longer (of them anyway) so he was learning to behave a certain way to get his reward. But the FEAR was gone.

Any new person or scary thing and we had the treats out again, counter conditioning.

I think it's a really fine line, which is why I am thankful for my trainer. I think it's better to err on the side of caution and just keep your dog under threshold and CC with treats until you get some professional advice. Just a few sessions can be very helpful.
 
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