Negative Events – more harmful than positive events are beneficial.

Screen-Shot-2014-08-25-at-9.03.45-PM-300x200As a Russian saying goes: ‘a spoonful of tar can spoil a barrel of honey, but a spoonful of honey does nothing to a barrel of tar’ (Rozin & Royzman, 2001).

Why are unpleasant experiences so much more lasting than pleasant ones?

In a blog posted by Jennifer Cattet Ph.D. in she says that for us, it only takes one harsh word, one critical or sarcastic comment to overshadow several declarations of appreciation and love. We tend to hold on to that negative comment, feeling deflated, disrespected and invalidated. We need a five to one ratio of positive interactions to negative ones (Marano, 2004). It takes at least five good things to wipe out a bad one

Any aversive, in other words, anything that is perceived by the dog to be unpleasant, scary or painful will have a more lasting effect than anything pleasant.

How can we help our dog overcome a negative experience asks Jennifer Catett? Fortunately, through repeat exposure to positive experiences, new neural connections can gradually develop over time. That’s how animals learn. But it takes many more positive experiences to replace one negative one and the more traumatizing the event, the longer it will take.

Here is the story of a dog I went to that very likely, in his previous life, had bad associations around children – most especially young boys, and here is the story of a Border Terrier who will continue to need a lot of positives to wipe out her previous bad experiences.

Theo Stewart, The Dog Lady 

Go to my main website:

About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site:
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