Episode 446 – Emotional Contagion and the Human-Animal Bond

Anyone who works with fearful aggressive dogs quickly learns that they better get their own fears under control if they want to help those animals. The term “emotional contagion”may mean nothing to them, but they do know that such dogs often can pick up of their fear and anxiety and make a bad situation worse.

Experienced behavioral consultants also learn that they need to help their clients deal with their fears for 2 different reasons. It’s very difficult for fearful people to teach their dogs not to be frightened.  Equally important, fearful dogs with fearful owners may perceive other people near their fearful owner as the cause of the owner’s fear. This doesn’t bode well for those others who find themselves in this position.

This podcast explores the phenomenon of emotional contagion as  it enhances the survival of wild and domestic animals. Then it looks at how this same phenomenon can create problems for dog owners and their animals.

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