Kuiper wears a tactical vest and a flag collar. He is holding an American flag in his mouth and looking pensive.

It’s OK to be Afraid

PSA: If your dog thinks there’s a war on, help them out!

Fear of loud noises is completely normal in dogs; up to half of all dogs are affected.(1)(2) It’s also normal for adult dogs to suddenly develop a fear of fireworks for no apparent reason (hooray.)

July 5-July 3 is a great time to play firework noises quietly on your phone and pair the sounds with cheese (or whatever your dog’s favorite treats are.) There are lots of options that might help your dog to become less fearful over time. However!

If your dog is scared out of their mind tonight, I want you to know that it’s OK to hang out in the bathtub and give them a cuddle.

Reinforcement deals with behaviors, not emotions. Fear is an emotion. You cannot reinforce fear in a dog any more than you can reinforce fear in a small child. If a kid is afraid of something, of course you’ll create a plan to help them learn it’s ok. But in the moment, if they’re completely freaking out and panicking, they are too far gone to learn anything useful (except perhaps that they can’t rely on you in a crisis.)

Do what you need to do to help your dog feel better tonight. Pet them, cuddle them, give them treats. If medication helps your dog, go ahead and use it. The only thing worse than being terrified is being terrified and thinking you’re on your own.

(1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016815911200367X
(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21151214/

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BzgdocZFcE7/

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