I too see these differences, but I explain it that the two approaches are fundamentally the same and the dog just responds to one better than the other, rather than saying that one is "telling the dog fear is ok" and the other isn't.
See, both are "rewards." Poor Babying is, in some people's minds, a reward for the fear, and to be avoided at risk of increasing fear. But if you look at it carefully, by that rationale, so is jollying. That is a reward, too, but no one tells you not to do it or you might increase fear. We know it is a good intervention. But they work by the same classical principle, and do not work operantly.
So, that means that we *do* understand that you need to work classically here and that operant doesn't really work there. If you jolly, you're using classical. If you soothe with "poor baby" you're using classical, too. So why choose one over the other? Why do we see one work more than the other commonly?
So, when it doesn't work, it doesn't work because the soothing means *nothing* to the dog, or because the owner is doing it really nervously, not because it just plain "increases fear," or "tells the dog that fear is ok."
The point about soothing a scared dog is this: find what soothes your scared dog. If it is jollying, go for it. If it is a quiet petting session, do it. If it is cooing and babytalk, fine. My own dog can handle many more things if in physical contact with me and doesn't particularly like the jollying as it makes her more hyper. That is why we don't train by recipe, but we seek to understand the underlying principles.
Classical works, and you have to find the channel that speaks to your dog, be it jollying or cooing or something else. But don't think that one is operant and the other classical, or that they're both operant and "telling" your dog what behavior is "right." It will just mix you up in the end.
Right. Since we were specifically talking about fear and I didn't want to make my email a tome, I didn't make the distinction.
Classical works by imparting the associations already made with the UCS (say, food) onto the situation at hand. If you have a happy situation and you add some already-made happy, you have, well, happy.
If you have a neutral situation and you add happy, you have happy, eventually.
If you have a bad situation and you add happy, you'll have happy, but only with a lot of work, and attention paid to threshold and such, since a bad situation makes for a challenging learning environment and a slow transfer of happy.
If you have a happy situation and you add bad (say, a knee to the chest), you'll get all sorts of things depending on the dog (arousal, appeasement, avoidance, aggression), but none of them should be an increase of happy, technically.
There is also
another mechanism at play here. If you add a happy UCS generally, you
get happy based on what I said above. But if you specifically add food
as your happy UCS, you get the assistance of the parasympathetic nervous
system counteracting the sympathetic, and helping you change the physical
state. Which in turn, likely, helps the dog calm down. It is not a benefit
you get with using tug or chase as your happy UCS.
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