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Very Public Refusal

You’ve probably heard about or even seen this clip of a Shih Tzu from the National Dog Show shown on NBC Thanksgiving weekend. Despite all the awwws and laughter from the crowd, and even the announcer’s glossing over it, the clip made me feel sad. We call such behavior “going flat.” With Lilly, it’s a sure sign of a full-on refusal or times that she is saying, “Oh, hell no!” to whatever I’m asking her to do — be it an agility task, a more typical cue, or even entering say the farmer’s market because she’s nervous or scared.

Thankfully, the judge let the dog and handler off the hook.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Rox - December 29, 2009

Hey, Kristen — Timing and method in situations like this are everything. The Relaxation Protocol and other methods help prevent these kinds of extreme shutdowns. If you haven’t looked at it, I also recommend the Fearful Dogs blog and site for the nitty gritty on what’s being reinforced (and not) in such situations involving fear.

KristenT - December 28, 2009

I would think that giving the dog treats after she refuses like that would just reinforce the behavior…

Rox, I’m enjoying your blog a lot!

Dog-geek - December 5, 2008

Awww, poor little thing!

Sharon Liveten - December 4, 2008

This broke my heart. We had a show dog who would do the same thing going to the judge, and trot off perfectly going away. We didn’t make her do it very long and she lived with us for 16 years as a house pet. Er, the QUEEN of the house.

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