Tips & Tricks

Fireworks: Should you reassure your dog?

(Spoiler alert: the answer is yes, a thousand times yes!)

Some educators and behaviorists have decided that it’s best not to reassure a dog who’s afraid of fireworks, thunder or any other sudden noise, because, in their view, reassuring your dog means confirming that he’s right to be afraid.

Firstly, it is scientifically impossible to reinforce fear by comforting a dog.

Secondly, your dog sees you as a resource person who provides him with one of his basic needs, which is security. If your dog is injured, you’ll help him and take him to the vet. Why, when he’s suffering mentally, should we ignore him? Your dog understands that you’re not there for him when he’s panicking; he won’t understand why, so you risk breaking the bond of trust you have with him. And this can escalate to running away as soon as a noise is heard, as the dog remembers that you weren’t there for him and disengages from you instead of seeking refuge at your side.

Imagine your child is afraid of fireworks. It’s normal! And it’s just as natural to comfort him. Why shouldn’t it be the same for the dog? He’s not a human, of course, but he’s a living being with sensitivity, neurotransmitters, joy and pain, and above all a need for your reassuring presence.

Ignoring anyone who is suffering is abuse.

Whatever type of fear your dog displays (body language, trembling, fleeing to a place to hide, urinating, defecating, distress vocalizations, barking), we humans can’t assume what distress he’s in. Fear is a feeling that may seem totally unfounded to us, but it’s very real to the dog, who feels anxious, believes he’s in danger, and may even end up hurting himself in a panic.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a dog who, like my Simone at the age of two months, has heard fireworks and firecrackers, there are some excellent desensitization methods in positive education. If you have a young dog, you can play him soundtracks with noises he’ll hear for the rest of his life. If panic has already set in, desensitization takes place very gently and gradually. Get help from a professional specializing in positive education. who has the resources and skills to support you and your dog.

qui dispose des ressources et des compétences nécessaires pour vous aider, vous et votre chien.

See you soon!

Your Dog Nanny



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