Some people are concerned that by comforting and petting their dogs when they are scared, they will encourage them to be more fearful. However this is not what we believe. Yes some people in the past claimed that this theory is true but according to new research done on the stress levels of dogs during storms they found that petting your dog while he/she is scared will not decrease cortisol levels, thus this will not reinforce the fearful behavior. Our dogs are like our babies. Who would not comfort his/her baby when they feel distressed?! To help you out we will explain how you should be comforting your dog when they are scared.
Here’s what you should do
- You need to figure out what is causing your dog to feel distressed, try to observe their surroundings.
- Soothe your dog while he is scared. You can do so by distraction playing a game with him or making him fetch a treat. You can also try and get your dog to go to his safe place. This place would most probably be where he sleeps or his crate.
- After your dog has calmed down you will need to introduce your dog to his fear gradually, for example if he fears thunder try to let him hear its sound while playing. This step will let him/her know that his fear is in his mind.
- When your dog starts to interact with his fear like ignoring the sound of thunder make sure that you praise the dog and you may treat him/her.
- To make sure that your dog isn’t afraid of many things, try to expose him to as many new things a possible and socialize him with his surroundings. Learn also how to calm your dog when they are afraid of fireworks.
Socializing your dog is very important at a young age. By early socialization, you will allow your dog to be comfortable with almost everything around him including people, places, sound and even smells.
Written by: Farah Khaled
Sources: The Nest , The Bark , Mother Nature Network