What is your biggest fear? Let's imagine you don't like to sing publicly. You hate it... and you may even feel anxious when thinking about that. The same can happen with anything else, driving in central London or potentially having argument with someone. Now imagine you have to sing in front of a large crowd and you are just about to go out on the stage. You don't feel ready, you feel weak or sick, you are there alone. Suddenly a memory from childhood is hitting you like a hammer that nobody was clapping after your first school performance, even your parents... you are terrified, you are not going... And now imagine that you are in the same situation... but feel great, you have had some good experience in performing in front of people, you are energised, you have heard so many compliments about yourself today, your best friend is with you and you feel like nothing can stop you ... it would be easier, wouldn't it?
It is exactly the same with our dogs and their ability to cope with their fears. We are focusing now on fireworks and noises but we have to remember it can be anything: people, other dogs, traffic, being alone, lack of exercise, trip to the vets to name a few; AND the triggers will add up. The ability to cope with a certain level of loudness (fireworks or other noises) can be different on different days. Many factors can contribute: our dog's mood, emotional and physical state (freedom from pain and discomfort, diet, supplementation, exercise, wellbeing), or presence of other triggers or environmental factors. For example , if your dog shows some reaction to noises but also does not like to stay home alone, they may get stressed much more by fireworks if you actually leave him or her alone. Additionally, what can affect our dog is the amount of stressful or positive experiences that day and the amount of training done so far. The good thing is - we can help our dogs to cope with stressful situations! We can work with to move their threshold of reacting with fear and anxiety. Given the example above - we can teach our dog to stay alone comfortably, do some confidence training with different noises, keep them in good shape, take care of their diet and wellbeing, train them through successful repetitions... and our dog is for sure going to be much happier during these difficult days of the year!
Thanks for reading,
Alex and Lila