How do I reinforce confidence without encouraging reactivity?

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/fmupsc/how_do_i_reinforce_confidence_without_encouraging/

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I have two dogs – both rescues who have had challenges to overcome. We now have a new challenge and I'd love some advice.

My older girl is 11 (still very young and spry). She was initially very fearful of men, but we've worked on that over the years and she's now confident and friendly and a fabulous companion.

The little one is now 5 and hasn't made quite as much progress but she had further to go. She's still fearful of the world but keeps getting better. Positive reinforcement, socialization, and Prozac have all helped. CBD oil also seems to help take the edge off. She is in love with her big sister – to much so that it sometimes irritates the big girl but she takes it in stride. Normally all is well and everyone gets along without problems.

EXCEPT… Every once in a while, the little one will react and snarl and lunge at big girl without an obvious reason. It's not a guarding situation. In fact, it most often occurs when little girl is awakened suddenly. She'll come out of a dead sleep and bark at big girl (yet she's never done it to a human). No true snapping – no baring of teeth or biting…just one snarling aggressive bark. When I observe this behavior, I usually give a gentle scold ("Ah ah… No") and it won't happen again for weeks or months. (She used to only do it to her brother who didn't like her, but when he died she redirected at big girl.) Big girl never reacts to this behavior and seems to ignore it.

Which brings us to the problem: In the middle of the night when big girl gets up to let herself out she has become unexplainably fearful of little one. If little girl is anywhere in the bedroom except her bed, big girl will stand in the hallway and bark LOUDLY with distinct fear in her voice. There is no question… In that moment she is absolutely afraid of little one.

It took forever to figure this out (I initially was afraid she was losing her eyesight, but that's not it). Big girl wants a human to get up out of bed run interference and say it's OK so little one won't lunge at her. Reassuring her verbally doesn't work – she just keeps barking and the panic in her voice increases until I finally get out of bed and walk to the hallway. The strange thing is that I can't ever remember a time when little one has actually lunged during the night – I've only get seen it happen during the day. But big girl never exhibits any fear or hesitation during the day…only at 2:00 am.

How do I encourage big girl to be confident and ignore little one without encouraging the barking in the middle of the night? I never wake up when she goes out, only when she comes back in. Any suggestions besides normal positive reinforcement of ignoring little girl? I really don't want to inadvertently encourage the barking.

Any thoughts or suggestions welcome! Thanks!

submitted by /u/BerleyG
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