I’m pleased to report that Kai’s injury is healing up well – a quick check-up at the vets yesterday confirmed it’s all headed in the right direction.
His fear of fireworks is still hanging about like a bad smell though, but on the plus side it’s meant I have spent some lovely quality time with him this week as I’ve kept him very close to me.
Which has begged the question from some quarters – is it my reaction to the fireworks that is causing his anxiety or is it his alone?
Personally, I find the question fairly insulting. I by no means claim to have all the answers to the many dog training conundrums that I love to learn more about on a daily basis. But as owners go, I don’t think my dogs do badly on the knowledge that I have available to me at this point in my life.
Yes it’s absolutely possible that by making a big fuss and crying and wailing along with Kai I could make him a lot worse very quickly. But even being the drama queen that I am, I don’t find that necessary
I am very deliberate about not rushing around or jumping up the moment I hear a bang to check my dogs are okay. I am calm and relaxed, and we stick to our usual routine with the exception of forcing Kai to go out in the garden last thing as he clearly is unhappy to do so. We haven’t had any yet, but if it meant the odd accident, so be it – I’m happy to make my peace with that.
Training will take you so far on your journey with your dog, but as your relationship develops you begin to realise that it’s only half the story. Dog have feelings in very similar ways to our own. Who am I to dictate through training exactly what you can and can’t be afraid of? Even if it were possible, I’m not sure I’d be entirely comfortable about it.
For me is about being a good parent. And in the same way that no matter how trivial or frustrating a worry or problem might be to me, if it bothers my children then as a mother I’m going to look to do something about it. Why would I offer any less to the dogs that I love?
Acknowledging anxiety or fear can in itself, help the big bad monsters go away. When you experience strong feelings of fear, no matter how irrational your head might argue you’re being, the fear will engulf you. Having someone you trust offer comfort and reassurance that you’re not alone can only be a good thing, and it may well make you feel safer and able to calm yourself down.
Emotions are not things that can be reinforced like behaviours. Yes behaviours often result as a consequence of emotions, but when you resolve the emotional state the behaviours subsequently disappear.
Kai is now 10 years old. Out of all of my dogs his fear of fireworks is the worst. Possibly the sounds coincided closely with his car accident which saw the loss of his front leg and that started it all off. Or maybe it was because back then I believed the best thing I could do for him was to ignore him and act like everything was alright.
Diva is 5 years old. Since she was little I have offered her comfort when she asked for it, and when the bangs started on Bonfire Night she requested a spot on my lap which I gladly gave her. Her expression tells me she could live without the fireworks, but provided she is acknowledged and heard then she can probably cope without major hysterics
I believe every owner is entitled to choose the path that best suits them and their dog. As far as I’m concerned, my job is merely to support and offer guidance when asked to do so.
It is all too easy to pass judgement about the different ways in which people do things. My feeling is and will continue to be – we are none of us perfect. The solutions to a problem should be as individual as we are.