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We just had our first consult with the local "vet behaviorist". It went....meh.

First, while she seemed nice enough she did make some snide comments about my other two dogs: my 12 year old Aussie is overweight (I know, she's just not as active as she used to be so we're having to readjust), my terrier mixes nails were too long (they grow very quickly and I haven't had the time), she was appalled that I don't cut my dogs nails myself but rather have a groomer do it, and apparently my terrier is also too spoiled.

Maybe I'm just stressed, but it kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

As for her advice, there was some I agreed with and others I didn't.

I agreed with:
- She said instead of saying "it's okay" when he's scared/reacting, to replace it with "good boy" when he's quiet because it makes your voice sound more upbeat and positive.

- She said that while Cockers can have neurological aggression, based on his behavior she didn't think that was the case because he was clearly scared - not aggressive.

- She said to reward when he's quiet, but then our trainer told us that.

- She suggested an Adaptil diffuser, which I'll try but I'm not sure it will work.

I disagreed with:
- She said that by petting him or offering him the opportunity to hide behind me when he's reacting I was reinforcing his behaviors.

- She suggested having him in the room when I have a stranger (to him) come over and block access so he can't run away and hide, just let him bark and then throw treats when he's quiet.

- She asked about resource guarding. I mentioned that he does with the other dogs when it comes to high value items - in the past, he has actually lunged/attacked the other dogs for looking at his treat from across the room. I said he eats alone, partially so he doesn't guard his bowl and also so he doesn't steal the other dogs' food. I told her I still tend to give him high value treats (bones, stuffed Kongs, etc.) when we're not with the other dogs just in case, though he's gotten much, much better about it to the point where he rarely even growls. She told me this was bad, that I was reinforcing the resource guarding by allowing him to have his stuff alone (even though I don't even give him the stuff in the presence of the other dogs, so IMO he doesn't know the difference - it's not like he has it, growls at another dog, and then I take him to have his own space).

- She said he was too attached to me, that I needed to isolate him from me to the point of tethering him to other people. He definitely prefers to be with me, but will willingly go with others too (that he knows and trusts).

- She also was very unfamiliar with LAT, and seemed to kind of brush it off when I tried to explain it even though it's been the most successful thing thus far.

- When I mentioned that I was graduating in a year and likely moving to town, and that I wanted to take him with me hence my reason for wanting to help him (though of course he could stay here if need be), she wasn't at all hopeful, optimistic, or encouraging. At all. She just kind of got a look like, "why on earth would you want to do that"?


That's all I can think of. Are my listed concerns valid, or am I confused and she's right?

I honestly feel kind of deflated. She's going to type up her report and email it to me this weekend so I guess we'll go from there. I guess being a vet I was expecting some sort of new or better advice - most of it seemed worse (unless I'm just in the wrong) and at best, the same. It's not that I wanted her to prescribe medication, of course I don't if that's not the answer, but she didn't really seem to have an answer anyway.

She's also totally convinced that once I start school again in the semester I won't have time for him at all. Yes, I'll be busy but I've made time for him his entire life.

And of course I feel a bit guilty because I subjected my pup to all that stress and it feels like it was all for nothing. My payment paid for the consult as well as two follow up visits, but I don't know if I'll schedule them or not.

Input?
 

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We just had our first consult with the local "vet behaviorist". It went....meh.

First, while she seemed nice enough she did make some snide comments about my other two dogs: my 12 year old Aussie is overweight (I know, she's just not as active as she used to be so we're having to readjust), my terrier mixes nails were too long (they grow very quickly and I haven't had the time), she was appalled that I don't cut my dogs nails myself but rather have a groomer do it, and apparently my terrier is also too spoiled.
She sounds rude. My sister's Dachshunds nails grow extremely fast. She gets them cut every three weeks, and they just grow very fast.

- She said that by petting him or offering him the opportunity to hide behind me when he's reacting I was reinforcing his behaviors.
I don't think that's true.

She suggested having him in the room when I have a stranger (to him) come over and block access so he can't run away and hide, just let him bark and then throw treats when he's quiet.
Based on what I've read about Chisum, that sounds like a disaster, and truthfully sounds a little bit like flooding to me.

She asked about resource guarding. I mentioned that he does with the other dogs when it comes to high value items - in the past, he has actually lunged/attacked the other dogs for looking at his treat from across the room. I said he eats alone, partially so he doesn't guard his bowl and also so he doesn't steal the other dogs' food. I told her I still tend to give him high value treats (bones, stuffed Kongs, etc.) when we're not with the other dogs just in case, though he's gotten much, much better about it to the point where he rarely even growls. She told me this was bad, that I was reinforcing the resource guarding by allowing him to have his stuff alone (even though I don't even give him the stuff in the presence of the other dogs, so IMO he doesn't know the difference - it's not like he has it, growls at another dog, and then I take him to have his own space).
I think that's silly. Because he RGs with other dogs (which we all know is quite normal) he's never allowed to have anything special in his life? Ridiculous.

She said he was too attached to me, that I needed to isolate him from me to the point of tethering him to other people. He definitely prefers to be with me, but will willingly go with others too (that he knows and trusts).
I don't think that's true. I think it's important that he trusts you and wants to be with you.

She also was very unfamiliar with LAT, and seemed to kind of brush it off when I tried to explain it even though it's been the most successful thing thus far.
That's kind of odd. I always believed that LAT was one of the go-to treatments for reactive dogs.

When I mentioned that I was graduating in a year and likely moving to town, and that I wanted to take him with me hence my reason for wanting to help him (though of course he could stay here if need be), she wasn't at all hopeful, optimistic, or encouraging. At all. She just kind of got a look like, "why on earth would you want to do that"?
This bothers me the most. In a world where SO many people give up on their dogs for things like not being house-trained, or because they shed too much, people like you who are trying everything they can to deal with a reactive dog should be commended, encouraged, and helped.

I'm sorry you feel deflated. She sounds like she was a little pious and judgy. I recently went to a class offered by a behaviorist, and I was SO disappointed. She let the puppies fight and said they needed to "work it out", offered me no usable help when I asked about Heidi's resource guarding.

It taught me that similar to trainers, the title doesn't necessarily mean the person behind it is any good. You hang in there, you're doing good by Chisum, and we all know how hard you've been working.
 

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What a crappy vet behaviourist. Maybe she was having a bad day, and her reaction to why you would want to keep your dog with you was related to that...it sounds like it. I'm sad she judged you based on a few things you haven't been able to do-everyone has their own story. Those issues can definitely be frustrating to see, but that's not really a good reason to be snide.

I'm irritated she didn't know what LAT is, and have a hard time trusting her other advice related to aggression when she hasn't kept up to date in her research. At worst, the basic concepts of new techniques should be part of their job.

Have you done any research on BAT? It's somewhat controversial (for extra stupid reasons) but I think that with people may work for you-find a large open space to have him on leash, and reward when he gives calming signals or is quiet when the person is far. Essentially, you gradually decrease distance until comfortable levels are reached.

Don't let her analysis influence your decision to take him with you. It sounds like she didn't take much time to think over your situation at ALL, or your needs/desires, so I wouldn't let this weigh in any more than it already is going to. If you feel comfortable sharing the report, maybe there is good information that will be included to use after the fact.
 

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Ugh, vets and staff from vet offices are so incredibly judgey.

Honestly, they approach everything from a medical standpoint and don't really have the experience or training that a good trainer has. They have the basics, but I don't think they are the people you go to if you need expert advice about behavior.

It's like going to a psychiatrist when you need a therapist.
 

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Thanks all. I feel a bit better. Me & Chisum went on a hike and I think it cleared both our heads.


@Kwenami - I totally understand being blunt if it's a serious situation. If my dog were obese, that's one thing. She's probably about 5/6 lbs overweight, due mainly to lack of her usual exercise, as she's not really a food hound. It's something to work on, yes, but for an Aussie not obese. Likewise, if I were abusing my dogs or not providing adequate care, I get that. But she probably called my dog fat at least 3-4 times while she was here, or alluded to it.

She's older, I get that. None of us are perfect, either. I guess I was just expecting some really valuable insight and even what I agreed with wasn't that valuable. I guess I'll see when she sends me her official report, though. I asked her at the end if she thought for any reason he needed medication -- I'm mainly intrigued by meds because I've heard they can make recovery from a reaction happen more quickly, where Chisum can and did bark for the hour and a half she was here until he was allowed to hide. She never really answered me.

My trainer actually does BAT, but we had some difficulty because I wasn't familiar with it and she couldn't really do it herself or demonstrate because Chisum wouldn't let her near. So it was a lot of her trying to maneuver me through it. We did have some success. I'm a member of the BAT group on Facebook, and I think I'll be buying the BAT 2.0 book to see if I can glean/understand anything there and put it into practice.

My main hurdle is I have to find people to do setups with, as the areas where we could go and see people but still have plenty of space to move around aren't always populated, especially this time of year.


@Shandula - yes, it sounded a LOT like flooding to me. I think she assumed he'd eventually just settle down, but he doesn't - he'll keep going and work himself up into a stupor. Ironically, she kind of seemed to imply that I had somehow "let" him develop these habits, and she was very convinced that he would escalate to biting - which I think her methods would be more likely to lead to. As it is, I don't put him in ANY situations where he's close enough to bite another person.


I think over break I may work on car rides, so that I can get him to the point where we can drive into town and people watch from the car. He's not bad in the car, but it does make him very anxious and I'd like him as calm as possible once we start watching people. I may also go on walks at the lake and ask my brother to show up randomly after we do, so we can work on BAT stuff without him realizing that he actually knows the person (his threshold distance is far enough away I don't think he'll know). It's a start, I guess.
 

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Thanks all. I feel a bit better. Me & Chisum went on a hike and I think it cleared both our heads.


@Kwenami - I totally understand being blunt if it's a serious situation. If my dog were obese, that's one thing. She's probably about 5/6 lbs overweight, due mainly to lack of her usual exercise, as she's not really a food hound. It's something to work on, yes, but for an Aussie not obese. Likewise, if I were abusing my dogs or not providing adequate care, I get that. But she probably called my dog fat at least 3-4 times while she was here, or alluded to it.

She's older, I get that. None of us are perfect, either. I guess I was just expecting some really valuable insight and even what I agreed with wasn't that valuable. I guess I'll see when she sends me her official report, though. I asked her at the end if she thought for any reason he needed medication -- I'm mainly intrigued by meds because I've heard they can make recovery from a reaction happen more quickly, where Chisum can and did bark for the hour and a half she was here until he was allowed to hide. She never really answered me.

My trainer actually does BAT, but we had some difficulty because I wasn't familiar with it and she couldn't really do it herself or demonstrate because Chisum wouldn't let her near. So it was a lot of her trying to maneuver me through it. We did have some success. I'm a member of the BAT group on Facebook, and I think I'll be buying the BAT 2.0 book to see if I can glean/understand anything there and put it into practice.

My main hurdle is I have to find people to do setups with, as the areas where we could go and see people but still have plenty of space to move around aren't always populated, especially this time of year.


@Shandula - yes, it sounded a LOT like flooding to me. I think she assumed he'd eventually just settle down, but he doesn't - he'll keep going and work himself up into a stupor. Ironically, she kind of seemed to imply that I had somehow "let" him develop these habits, and she was very convinced that he would escalate to biting - which I think her methods would be more likely to lead to. As it is, I don't put him in ANY situations where he's close enough to bite another person.


I think over break I may work on car rides, so that I can get him to the point where we can drive into town and people watch from the car. He's not bad in the car, but it does make him very anxious and I'd like him as calm as possible once we start watching people. I may also go on walks at the lake and ask my brother to show up randomly after we do, so we can work on BAT stuff without him realizing that he actually knows the person (his threshold distance is far enough away I don't think he'll know). It's a start, I guess.
Finding people to work with is honestly the hardest part of reactivity. I wish I could help.

Maybe you can ask the trainer who IS familiar with it to show you how it works with a dog reactive dog, so you can learn what to teach your guy when the time comes. A big part of this is LOTS of distance.
 

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Personally I'd not schedule any follow-ups and start searching for a better behaviorist, ideally one that's a CAAB, or a more experienced vet behaviorist.

I think it's perfectly O.K. to pet him or let him hide behind you when he's acting nervous and scared. It offers him comfort, and it offers him a safe place to survey what he's scared of from. I only wish Zody would hide behind me rather then actively trying to scare away people. I pet Zody when he's acting anxious, and it works to settle him down.

I agree that forcing him to be in the room with what he's afraid of is flooding, it could very well backfire. It might work, but he might shutdown, or he might decide that since he can no longer escape maybe he should try and get the threat to leave. In other words he cannot flee so he may fight.

The advice to not give him his high value objects when he's alone also seem wrong. Giving him high value objects when he's around the other dogs is setting him up for failure, sort of like putting a steak on the ground and then correcting the dog when it goes for it. I'd continue to separate the dogs when they have high value stuff.

Why would she want a dog that does not have the personality to be a social butterfly to be one? Plenty of dogs, my own included are one or two people dogs, they don't want to be bothered with other people. I'd think that so long as they are not reacting badly to others then that perfectly alright.

LAT is proven to work, that she does not know about it and isn't to keep to learn about it, is worrisome. It's done wonders to help with Zody's reactivity and he's one who barks like a fiend, and lunges at people if they get to close. Now we can go at least a few days without him having a major outburst.

That's a strange reaction to your wanting to keep your dog. I'd have expected her to cheer you on, so many people would take the easy way out. I live in an apartment complex with my fear aggressive dog, I moved here from the country. It's been work, and I had to set up a good management plan (like the ex-pen around my door so he cannot door dash and bite someone) but it's going better then I expected. He started out really bad, barking and lunging at nearly everyone, but it's getting better. Today I foolishly forgot to take treats on his walk, we saw 2 people that he considers arch enemies but he barked at neither of them just calmly looked at them. Now tomorrow he may not be as good and bark like a crazy dog when he sees them, but I take each day as they come and today we're celebrating his success. I think it can be the same with you and Chisum.

Have you checked out Care for Reactive Dogs ? It's what I use with Zody and it's done wonders.
 
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Thanks @Rain. I've seen the website before but I'll have to give it a proper read.

I really could care less if he's social. I think there are times he almost wants to be; based on my experience he tends to go through a progression where he's terrified of the trigger and then wants to go check it out, bop it with his paw a bit. But I wouldn't dare push him; if all he ever was able to do is function in such an environment I'd be fine. I could even live with a bark or two, his problem is that once he gets going he sounds really, really intense and even mean - but it's clearly all fear.

I just know in my gut that the most important thing is to keep him feeling safe - so contrary to her advice that's what I'm going to do. He tends to see me as an anchor - if I'm willing to go check something out, he may still be apprehensive but he's more responsive too. He's always been like that.

The funny thing about the high-value objects is that separation worked wonders. He used to attack - actually attack - my other dogs for even being in the same room as him and his prize (food, kong, etc.). After a few months of separation, it was almost like he realized those things wouldn't be stolen from him. He still eats separately because I don't want him stealing the other dogs' food, but he can carry bones or his Kongs around with no issue whatsoever.

I'll be happy to share the report she gives me when she does. I'm kicking myself because I'm out the money as she sold the consult and the follow-ups as a package, but it's not too terribly much and I'll chalk it up to a lesson learned. I really don't see any benefit to future visits, in fact I really only predict setbacks both for him and me. I could definitely see her coming in and scolding me that I wasn't "doing enough" with him.

Anyway, we're off to bed. Hopefully some sleep helps. My brother's girlfriend came today, she's the only person outside the immediate family that Chisum accepts. He barked initially and then settled right in. He's been curled up next to her on the couch for half an hour. ;)
 

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I'd have the same disagreements as you. Several pieces of advice you received are opposite the advice I was given for my fearful boy.

I noticed that you put vet behaviorist in quotes. Was this person board certified or a member of any relevant professional organizations?
 

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regardless of her knowledge (which I won't judge, because I'm not a pro myself and wasn'T there), if I feel I can't trust a trainer/behaviourist I wouldn't let them work with my dog.
especially not when the person tells me I should give up the dog. because that's the owner's decision alone,( as long as the dog didn't deliberately hurt a human and the owner can't garant to prevent anouther incident).

Sancho is also a little on the fearful side and being close to his special persons helped him greatly, making it possible for him to adjust step by step to situations he found scary before.
this wouldn have worked just with treats, because he doesn't take treats from other people than family. getting him used to scary situations only gets better with a positive relationship to the handler, that promises security enough for him to be willing to explore the new situation.
 

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@cookieface - she's an actual vet, but not a certified behaviorist. There aren't any around here, and apparently many vets in the area aren't willing to confer with any farther away.

It's hard for me to contradict things sometimes because even though I've done research, I'm no pro. I've had dogs my entire life, but this is my first case of extreme reactivity. Some of her suggestions I could rationalize as wrong with thoughts like "that sounds like flooding", others I just felt in my gut were wrong. The long list of snide comments - there were far more than I listed in my initial post - didn't help either.

I love my trainer. She's had some health problems (suspected lyme) so has had to see some specialists - which is part of the reason we had to take a break over the winter. I hope we'll get to start back up again in the spring. She was very insistent that he not feel trapped in any way and had the chance to move away if need be (which I think is part of BAT). My main concern was that Chisum would have what I would call little moments of "overload" where he'd react intensely - usually for the first 10 minutes that we arrived at training, and sporadically throughout training no matter how far/close we were from the trigger (my trainer). He'd be doing tricks and they'd be tossing him treats to catch - he'd be relaxed, body posture fine, and then all of a sudden: scary! reaction!. Then we'd jog away, he'd want to return, more treats and tricks and the process would repeat. It wasn't demand barking - and he doesn't do that normally anyway - it was just a reaction. But the training we were doing did seem to help, my main reason to ask a vet "behaviorist" was to pose the question, "do you think medication would facilitate our training?". I didn't get an answer.

So, for now I'll just work on some stuff that we've been working on: making the car a happy place, matwork/relaxation protocol, impulse control, LAT. I'm planning on getting the new BAT book when it comes out and reading through that. In the spring I may go to a different vet, lay out all of the stuff we've tried and just ask my question in hopes of a straight answer. I do not want to medicate my dog if I don't have to, in fact I'm apprehensive about the idea altogether, but I would like a yes or no answer either way.
 

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I'll be the odd-person-out and say I agree that petting/comforting the dog when it's being reactive and exhibiting unwanted behavior probably isn't wise. If the goal is to ignore unwanted behavior and reward wanted behavior, then giving affection (a reward) during the unwanted behavior seems counterproductive to stopping that behavior, doesn't it?
 

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I'll be the odd-person-out and say I agree that petting/comforting the dog when it's being reactive and exhibiting unwanted behavior probably isn't wise. If the goal is to ignore unwanted behavior and reward wanted behavior, then giving affection (a reward) during the unwanted behavior seems counterproductive to stopping that behavior, doesn't it?
I think a lot of people can be on the fence with this one, or at least that's what I've understood.

I would personally agree if it were demand barking on any level - my little terrier mix is a demand barker and so ignoring her is a reasonable tactic. Chisum's not at all - in fact, aside from when he's reacting to something, he's a very quiet dog. It's 100% fear, so by giving him a pat or a comfort, I see it as reassuring him that I'm here and keeping him safe more than rewarding him.

However, I do think there is a line to cross and maybe some merit in what she said about not saying "it's okay" but instead saying things like "good boy!". Her reasoning being that it's really easy for us to sound worried/concerned ourselves when we say "it's okay" which could feed into the fear (as if we sound frantic maybe the dog thinks there is a reason to be frantic themselves) as opposed to something more upbeat and positive like "good boy". Personally, I've found with certain things that telling him "you've got this" works really well - it's pretty positive sounding and it serves to reassure/amp me up too. :)
 

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Wow, that's a lot of bad advice for a "veterinary behaviorist" :\

Is this person actually schooled in veterinary behavior? Or are they just a vet that claims to specialize in behavior issues, but really has no credentials for the behavior/training aspect? Because actual veterinary medicine is a different field of study that involves university courses on behavior. Your standard veterinarian does not receive such training or study. If she's had no additional training on behavior from a university, then she's falsely advertising and mislabeling herself.
 

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As far as petting or comforting the dog when it's reacting or being fearful....

You can't reinforce fear, or any other emotion. You can only reinforce behavior. Behavior is how dogs display or express emotion. So....Yes, in theory, you could technically reinforce behaviors a dog may display when it's frightened. However, most of the time, if you address and change the emotion that's behind that behavior, the behavior itself will change along with it. I think there are cases where a behavior can become habit and the dog will still exhibit the behavior even when they are no longer fearful of that stimulus. Barking is probably the most common thing this happens with. But chances are, the dog is already a more vocal dog in the first place, and already barks in other situations, so comforting or petting probably didn't make a difference. I also think it's easier to address barking and modify that behavior than it is to get a dog over a fear. So that's a potential consequence that is worth risking IMO.

Ideally, an individual should strive to counter condition. Which means working under threshold and trying to make experiences with that stimulus more positive. The pets and praise and treats involved won't reinforce fear in that situation. In situations where the dog becomes pushed over threshold, I think comforting is perfectly acceptable and won't cause harm, or setback training. A lot of dogs look to their person for comfort and safety. I think ignoring this will cause more emotional damage to the dog than the very unlikely, off chance hand you reinforce one of the behaviors it's exhibiting to express it's fear.
 

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this whole thread actually blew my brain, i admit i only scimmed over it, but i agree, being over protective with a dog that is scared, dosnt help. my doggy King is afraid of fireworks in old age, as he dosnt see very well anymore.
so i let him in the house, as soon as i realised, he mostly lives outside, but i dont mother-cuddle him.
he comes in, and he has to deal with what goes on inside. its distraction.
it all depends what your dog is afraid of. its not the same cure for everything.
i think half the time trainers and behaviourists arnt needed.
just snap out of it, what you imagine your dog needs, and listen to what your dog actually does need.
 

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However, I do think there is a line to cross and maybe some merit in what she said about not saying "it's okay" but instead saying things like "good boy!". Her reasoning being that it's really easy for us to sound worried/concerned ourselves when we say "it's okay" which could feed into the fear (as if we sound frantic maybe the dog thinks there is a reason to be frantic themselves) as opposed to something more upbeat and positive like "good boy". Personally, I've found with certain things that telling him "you've got this" works really well - it's pretty positive sounding and it serves to reassure/amp me up too. :)
See, I read that piece of advice from your original post differently. I read it as the vet telling you not to say "It's okay" during the time the dog is reacting and waiting to say "Good boy" when he's NOT reacting as a way to reinforce the wanted behavior. I think the timing of when to give the verbal support or praise is the more important thing.

I don't think the dog realizes that your kind words and comforting gestures during his reactive episodes are meant to soothe his fear. I think it's more likely he equates it with a reward that tells him he's reacting correctly for the situation. For all he knows you're sweetly saying, "That's right, baby. You go ahead and bark," while petting him. Your tone of voice and doling out of affection are what he recognizes, and they are easily interpreted as encouragement and reward.
 

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See, I read that piece of advice from your original post differently. I read it as the vet telling you not to say "It's okay" during the time the dog is reacting and waiting to say "Good boy" when he's NOT reacting as a way to reinforce the wanted behavior. I think the timing of when to give the verbal support or praise is the more important thing.

I don't think the dog realizes that your kind words and comforting gestures during his reactive episodes are meant to soothe his fear. I think it's more likely he equates it with a reward that tells him he's reacting correctly for the situation. For all he knows you're sweetly saying, "That's right, baby. You go ahead and bark," while petting him. Your tone of voice and doling out of affection are what he recognizes, and they are easily interpreted as encouragement and reward.
Except that's not even how counter conditioning works, which would be the proper course of action to address the behavior. Letting a dog react and then praising it for stopping the reaction is not going to train it not to react in the first place. You're not rewarding the dog for what you think you are. The dog is reacting out of emotion....You have to address the emotion. Addressing the behavior without addressing the emotion gets you nowhere.

And of course dogs are comforted and soothed when they're frightened, but their owner holds them close instead of ignoring them. It's not going to teach them anything. But that's not the point of consoling something. The best reaction to the dog reacting is to remove the dog from the stimulus it's reacting to.
 

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See, I read that piece of advice from your original post differently. I read it as the vet telling you not to say "It's okay" during the time the dog is reacting and waiting to say "Good boy" when he's NOT reacting as a way to reinforce the wanted behavior. I think the timing of when to give the verbal support or praise is the more important thing.

I don't think the dog realizes that your kind words and comforting gestures during his reactive episodes are meant to soothe his fear. I think it's more likely he equates it with a reward that tells him he's reacting correctly for the situation. For all he knows you're sweetly saying, "That's right, baby. You go ahead and bark," while petting him. Your tone of voice and doling out of affection are what he recognizes, and they are easily interpreted as encouragement and reward.

It's not worked that way with either of my dogs.

My old dog Jersey was terrified of thunderstorms when I adopted her, she shivered, shook, drooled, her eyes glazed over, and she'd become velcro dog. I'd pet her for a bit during the storms, telling her it was alright, that she was a good girl, and I'd use a happy, upbeat voice. I'd then play with my other dog, and let her stay velcroed to my side, then I'd pet her for a couple minutes, talk to her, and go back to playing with my dog. Over the years her fear slowly lessened and by the time she passed away it was only the loudest thunder that sent her into a panic. Now if I had acted scared, and used a worried voice while talking to her it might have been different, because she might have thought that since I was also scared she was right to be scared.

Zody alarm barks when people come in view of his window, and it's fear based. He has two goal with his barking, 1is for me to come and check out what he's concerned about, and 2 to drive off whomever it is if I choose to not check it out. I go and if whomever it was is still in view of the window I pet him and tell him in a happy, upbeat, voice what a good job he is doing, that he's a good boy. I can see him visibly relax when I do that, he lays down and is content to just watch the person. He's learned that the person is not a danger and that they will go away when he's quiet. If I do nothing then he keeps barking, getting louder and more frantic until the person goes away. He's learned that if he barks loud enough and long enough the person goes away. Behold the power of the bark!!! I really do not want him learning that.

Myth of reinforcing fear | Fearful Dogs
https://books.google.com/books?id=P3GHg6R_O2UC&pg=PT316&lpg=PT316&dq=dog+fear+affection+reinforcement&source=bl&ots=mVQoNPyJLp&sig=Y3orXcfepPKSgcVWCpmjfiNXLcg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi8saPi8enJAhVGVyYKHa32AWU4ChDoAQhKMAg#v=onepage&q=dog%20fear%20affection%20reinforcement&f=false
The second link is to Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, Procedures and Protocol.
https://books.google.com/books?id=P3GHg6R_O2UC&pg=PT316&lpg=PT316&dq=dog+fear+affection+reinforcement&source=bl&ots=mVQoNPyJLp&sig=Y3orXcfepPKSgcVWCpmjfiNXLcg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi8saPi8enJAhVGVyYKHa32AWU4ChDoAQhKMAg#v=onepage&q=dog%20fear%20affection%20reinforcement&f=false
 
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