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Reassuring or reinforcing?


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Hi everyone, I'm new here so apologies if this has been asked before.

My 11 month old GSD gets quite scared by loud voices. The main example of this is when my partner/children are playing video games and talk to other players loudly. Puppy will try and get as close to me as possible/sit on my head etc.. I've just been giving g a quick stroke and saying 'it's ok, don't worry' like I would if it was one of my children but my partner is now telling me I'm reinforcing his fear and rewarding him.

I'm looking for ideas of what I should do instead. It goes against my nature to move away from him and ignore him and I would definitely not tell him off but I'm not sure what I SHOULD be doing.

Many thanks.
You are right, your partner has it wrong. It used to be believed that you could reinforce fear in this way but actually it's not possible . If you were afraid of something and I 'rewarded' you with a hug, you aren't going to feel more afraid. There's a nice write up about it here -

Truth and Myth about Reinforcing Fear and Anxiety
I agree with JoanneF. If you gave me a tenner every time I saw a spider and said 'EEK!' I wouldn't become more scared of spiders, but quite the opposite.

If he is still worried despite your reassurance, you could give him an alternative coping strategy he can choose - maybe settling down on a comfy bed in a spare room, or having a quick play with you. After all, even with humans, some individuals can find noisy children make it hard to relax. Also, maybe ask your OH and children to keep it down a bit when your dog is worried - this isn't indulging him, or letting him wrap you round his little claw, it's respecting his feelings (which will make him more confident in the long run). Dogs can be very sensitive to raised voices, but don't understand that it's part of a game, or you're just having a rant about the government, or whatever, so it is only fair to make allowances.
That's very strange, our puppy who is now 13 months has recently displayed dislike when sometimes myself and husband raise our voices too loudly. She will get up and remove herself quickly from the room. We call her back as soon as we realize what has happened and gently tell her not to be so silly, if our daughter is home (who the puppy loves so very much) she will get given a loving hug from her, but not over OTT and settles as if nothing has happened.

We have no idea why she does this and we don't make a big thing about it, we just feel the need to comfort her with gentle words and obviously a little hug from our daughter.
The puppy is not a naughty girl and does not get told off very often, there are times when she has to be corrected thougho_O. She is another member of our gang.
With the variety of dogs I meet or work with(even with the ferrets and other animals I've adopted over the years) it is something we've all recognised I'm sure, that just like people, some are naturally more sensitive than others or more sociable than others etc... we are at the end of the day all individuals and as much as genes and external experiences or inputs/training obviously has an impact, we are all just a bit different too...
If an animal or person is fearful of something, to me it is instinct to reassure and be kind as @excuseme and the others say above.

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