Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Fraidy Dog!!"

Dogs in general do not love holidays. New Years and Fourth of July…too loud. Memorial Day, Labor Day…boring. Thanksgiving… great smells, people and potential for scraps. Christmas…tree in the house (but big trouble if it gets peed on)…more smells, more people, high scrap potential, used wrapping paper is always fun. 

Then there’s Halloween with lots of strange objects that smell like cheap plastic. Some objects look like demented humans, some make noises and move without warning, some crawl and light up. Scary to a dog. Dogs like predictability but Halloween thrives on SURPRISE. As with most “scary” things in our world, desensitization is the key to a cure. If a little dog is scared of big dogs, let him hang out with a few. If he’s scared of the ocean, let him get his feet wet. If Halloween is a fright, show him it’s all for fun.

Our daycare fills the lobby every October with years of collected and cheesy, zombies, spiders, huge skulls, flying skeletons, bats, scary clowns and possessed children. You name it; we’ve probably accumulated it. At first, dogs (and humans) are “surprised” by the sudden change of our lobby from a happy place to a temple of horror. But the surprise doesn’t last and eventually both human and dog see it for what it is. By repeat exposure, desensitization steps in and what was once a fright, becomes a curiosity, then old news.

It’s natural to protect our “kids” from bad things, but exposing them to things outside their safety zone allows them the chance to explore the unusual and be more confident in the real world. A variety of experiences in your dogs life spices it up, creates memories, fortifies your bond, builds confidence and, if done in a gentle, safe and rewarding way, keeps your pup curious, stimulated and always ready to go on the next adventure with you.