Go See

One of our most important coping mechanisms is “go see.” “Go see” is so useful, and works so well, that most of Silas’s fears in the house have completely dissipated. The ones that remain are more about noise than sight.

“Go see” in action:

Five minutes ago, during the insane spin cycle of our front-loading washing machine, a plastic box fell off the top of the washer. It landed, loudly, in the recycling bin. The noise startled both of us, but it happens often enough that I knew exactly what it was.

I looked at Silas and said, brightly, “You wanna go see?” Then I stood up and started walking.

He hopped off the couch, we went to the laundry room, he sniffed of the box, and we went back to the sofa and sat down.

The end.

I love this, because it works, although it isn’t always so perfect in one shot. Also, it acknowledges Silas’s fears and gives him a tool to work through them.

Some important points: We never, ever “go see” anything that is legitimately scary. We don’t use it on dogs or environmental triggers, and I very rarely use it with people. It works excellently for harmless things that have fallen over or made other noises, and almost as well for things that are scary just because they’re new–big cardboard boxes, furniture being rearranged, my mother’s ceramic cat statue. I will sometimes move the object once we get there, but only if I’m absolutely sure that will help (like last week’s terrifying bathrobe).

The other absolutely critical thing with this cue is that seeing does not equal lingering. This is not a reality show about phobias. We go right away. This is especially important to remember if your dog is on a leash. Give them a chance to get away. In fact, turn and walk away yourself as soon as the dog has braved a good sniff. Not only does this keep the situation from escalating, if going to see did not help, it keeps it all very off-hand and casual. If you walk away and the dog still seems curious, you can always go back.


7 thoughts on “Go See

  1. I’d never heard of “go see” before but it’s a great idea…Giz is not fearful but I see this being useful when he has a barking spree over some outside noise that only he hears…We can pop out to “go see” and that should break the cycle…Thank you for teaching me something new that i’ll be putting into use 🙂


    1. I haven’t used it for barking, mostly because Silas is either barking at a squirrel or a person. In either case, there is actually something out there. We do let him go out and look around if he’s really inconsolable about nothing, but it doesn’t happen often.

      One of the most useful ones for barking is for me to go look out the window. Even if I know nothing is there, he feels like he’s warned me, and I checked it out, and his job is done.


  2. I’m with Beth, this is a great idea that I’ll be putting into place. Honey is fearful of things that move unexpectedly like a baby gate falling over or something coming off a table. I’ll try it.


    1. Aww, thanks. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my list of “I wish I’d thought of that sooner” tools. I’ll be posting a couple of others soon. I never know what is old-hat to everyone but me, and what is actually helpful.


  3. We use something similar with the blind trio. When there is something that they can smell or hear but can’t figure out, they are encouraged to check it out and there have been times of them being unsure but with some praise and happy voice, it’s all good.

    I think that Silas is really coming along well, isn’t he?


  4. I was using something similar last year with Delilah on our walks. She was on leash but Sampson would sometimes see something and run to investigate. I would unclip her and tell her to ‘go check’ and she would run over check it out and come right back. That was how she lulled me into a false sense of security. We don’t use that command anymore. 😉


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