Rotating brushes inside a conveyor car-wash.

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I picked up Bentley from day camp then decided to get the car washed on the way home.  This was Bentley’s first time through a car wash.  Despite his namesake, he did not like it at all.  The poor thing was whimpering and panting out of anxiety.

This is a tough situation to be in.  Our first inclination is to hug or pet the dog and tell him it’s ok.  Try to soothe him, try to calm him.  But all this does is reinforce in the dog that being scared of this strange thing is ok!  We do NOT want to reinforce scared behavior.  So, difficult as it was, I didn’t cuddle my poor puppy.  Instead, I tried talking to him in an upbeat voice to reinforce the fact that *I* wasn’t scared and thus there was nothing to be scared about.  He made it through the brief ordeal unscathed, and has not somehow developed a fear of the car.

DON’T REINFORCE SCARED BEHAVIOR!

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