Kiss it and make it better
Have you ever stopped to think about the totally unhygienic practice parents have of kissing boo-boos to make them better? Ever thought about how a little TLC can turn a tight-fisted, red-faced, teary-eyed toddler into a pouty, head nodding, ice cream eating miniature human again? If you live with a fearful dog you should.
I have been living with a 4 month old puppy for the past two weeks. Tooie is a fabulous little dog, showing all the resiliency, tolerance and confidence that make a good puppy a great dog. My dog Sunny, an adult male who grew up in an enclosed area with numerous dogs has a set of rules for young dogs that at times I marvel at and other times cringe about. Overall Sunny enjoys other dogs, he likes to play and after any ritualized displays of just how tough he could be, he switches to Mr. Hyde in a blink of an eye and begs to be chased. Sunny teaches young dogs to take no for an answer and to learn to pay attention to what other dogs are saying-
“I really mean it, you should not come any closer while I chew this bone.”
Sometimes his rebukes are a bit harsh for a small pup and when this happens puppy runs off whimpering and seeks me out. Many social animals seek solace and comfort with trusted friends or relatives when they have been scared or stressed. Humans hug, we pat backs, we whisper soothing words. This ‘social buffering’ does more than just provide momentary relief. By helping to reduce the fear and anxiety the dog is feeling, stress hormone levels decrease. Tooie is learning that sometimes other dogs do things that hurt or scare him and it’s not all that bad. Life goes on. I’m not suggesting that we should allow other dogs to hurt or scare our dogs, but when something happens that frightens a dog it’s ok to offer them comfort and support. It may even make it easier for them to deal with scary things in the future.
When something scares your fearful dog, don’t leave them flapping in the breeze. Do what you need to to get them back to an emotional comfort level. Getting back on the horse is easier when you know you have someone there to give you a leg up.