Preparing for the Unexpected – Building Resilience in your Dog
We were treated to an amazing light show in the early hours on Saturday here in Devon! Whilst certainly awesome to watch, not all of our canine friends would agree. Something like the storm we experienced can be very unsettling to our dogs, especially as it’s not something that happens all the time.
We probably haven’t done all the preparation we do around fireworks night in the autumn and so a storm in the middle of the night might catch us a little off guard!
This is a great example of why building resilience in our dogs should be something that we are doing 24/7 not just when we know that there will be some loud bangs outside.
A few tips on how to do this on a day-to-day basis:
- Reward your dog for not reacting to loud noises when you’re out and about or in the house or garden
- Reward them for making good choices such as going to a boundary or coming to you if they are uncertain or something changes in their environment
- Make playing tapes of traffic or fireworks or cars backfiring part of your puppy training, although it is never too late to start! Any dog can benefit from doing this.
And a final tip, if the unexpected should happen, have a freezer drawer full of Kongs at the ready to distract them from the flashes and bangs and/or to reward their appropriate response. Never punish your dog for showing fearful behaviour. If they are frightened then it is OK to comfort then. Contrary to what you will often hear it is not possible to reinforce an emotion such as fear.
About the Author: Molly Bridge helps out with some of the work in the office at Devon Dogs, particularly with marketing and advertising. She originally trained as a teacher but some of her interests are brand promotion and customer experience. She doesn’t train dogs herself, but is quickly getting used to how the business works! Molly has two Standard Poodles and a Border Collie to keep herself busy with at home!