The Science Dog (Linda P. Case) has recently posted an article (Clown Fear) in regards to comforting a stressed dog.
The common wisdom is to ignore and NOT comfort the dog in these situations.
From the small study cited in the article, there's evidence to suggest that comforting a stressed dog in these scenarios is better than ignoring.The Science Dog wrote:There is absolutely no evidence, nada, suggesting that providing comfort and security to a distressed dog causes the dog’s anxiety or fear to increase.
I suspect that it has to do with confusion about the difference between an emotional response (which is under very little conscious control) and a learned (operant) response (which is under varying degrees of conscious control).
The Science Dog wrote:If we do not believe that comforting a loved one when they are distressed is the wrong thing to do (i.e. we should comfort those who we love), why would we consider this to be an appropriate approach with our dogs?