Golden Ribbon Rescue
August 2017

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Newsletter Editor:
Dawn Marie Rae

Send comments or
suggestions to:

Gold Ribbon Rescue
PO Box 956
Austin, TX 78767
512 659-4653

A Message from Our President...
Margo Biba

Dear Friends,

My hat is off to those of you who foster or adopt youngsters. Somehow, two of my foster dogs are 18-month-old rowdy barkers who both can defeat baby gates. To complicate matters, they get annoyed with each other, so they must be kept apart. Eeek! I am finding myself muttering, “I’m in total overwhelm mode, but it’s my own fault. I volunteered for this.” Meanwhile, the other six sensible, mature canines, ages 3 – 12 shoot me pained glances: “Can’t you tell those idiots to settle down?” We need serenity in here.

Early head’s up for GRR members – the annual membership meeting will be held on Sunday, October 1st at 11:00 am, at the Upper Crust Bakery in Austin. Save the date.

Brand new Chiquita 17-082, age 9 years, appeared to have a spay scar, but around 12:30am (July 24th), she started showing signs and by 1:30am, foster mom Denise Maples phoned, saying that Chiquita definitely appeared to be in labor. A few hours later GRR welcomed two new girls into our family. Mom and girls are doing well and babies are healthy. A big welcome to 17-089 Sugar (blonde puppy) and 17-090 Spice (black puppy)!

Many thanks to Denise for dealing so graciously with this Big Surprise. What a stunning turn of events! Their early photos are just below. We've put up an Amazon wish-list for Denise and the puppies here. Any help is appreciated during this whelping period!

Meanwhile, the intake team is working overtime this week, with a sudden rush of incoming dogs. Foster homes are tight, as many of our volunteers are traveling. That’s one reason that I have eight dogs at my house, even though hubby Gary is out of town. We would really appreciate approved fosters and adopters stepping up to help. We need you – it takes a village!

Enjoy the newsletter!

As Ever,

Chiquita (17-082) with Sugar (17-089) and Spice (17-090) and everything nice!


Letter From The Editor - All Things Dog and Golden
Dawn Marie Rae

Cooper and Sophie

This month, we get a peek at how three of our Seuss Litter puppies are enjoying life. Annie, Cindy Lou Who and Bungus. (Someone out there is trying to make the name Bungus a verb - and you know who you are! :) You have to giggle mightily when you see them though; they are so utterly, utterly joyous!

So many of you have seen your dog(s) slip into that frenzied la-la land with storms or other anxiety producing environments. A thoughtful article in this issue shows you that you can't reward their fear and the different methodologies to employ in comforting your dog.

I've been compiling the newsletter for 3 years now and have loved every minute of it, but I have been fortunate of late to have three new volunteers writing and editing and chasing the stories with me: Juri Naus, Amy Craig and Dori Olsen. Welcome and thanks for the last few newsletters!

Always feel free to send ideas, suggestions and corrections to I hope you enjoy this month's issue!

- Dawn Marie Rae


Upcoming Events and Notices

Gold Ribbon Rescue presents -
The Hearts of Gold Gala!

When: October 29th 5:00 - 9:00pm
Where: The Historical Charles Johnson House -
American Legion

Address: 404 Atlanta Street Austin, Texas 78703

Tickets will be on sale in early September, so stay tuned. It’s going to be a gold star event, with a catered dinner by Food! Food!, wine and beer tastings, music, a silent auction … and a gang of Golden Retriever lovers coming together to celebrate that wonderful breed with hearts of gold. COME! PLAY!

The 2018 Calendar
thumbnails submissions has been extended to August 13th. Please submit your entries to Kathy Simmons. You can still pre-order your calendar here.


Where Are They Now? Seussical Annie 17-062
Amy Craig With The Mosel Family

I’m sure you all are familiar with the adorable Seussical litter GRR took in early this summer.

Right around the same time the litter came in to GRR, the Mosel family was mourning the recent loss of their beloved Clifford, their previous GRR dog. When they saw the puppies, they thought having a puppy would be a great way to help them heal from the loss of Clifford. After some visits, Miss Annie 17-062 was matched with the Mosel family; Mike, Cindy, and their daughters Maddy and Audrey.

When they brought baby Annie home, they knew it was a match made in Heaven. Layla, their 10yr old Chihuahua mix, wasn’t quite as thrilled with the new addition. But she has been very patient and works to just ignore baby Annie, with only an occasional small snarl to tell her to “go away”. Annie is learning Layla’s boundaries. She seems content to move on to some other play toy. (And you can be assured she has tons!)

Annie is an absolute joy for her new family. “She’s just so so adorable and cute and funny!” Cindy says. She has her “Nighttime Crazies” moments... then crashes hard into a fabulous nap. She is especially fond of “Dad”. She thinks he hung the moon! Their youngest daughter, Audrey, is also Annie’s best bud. (with Maddy in close second!) They are near inseparable. She has fit right in with the family routine, is quickly picking up basic commands, and is just a super happy puppy. She seems to carry a permanent smile on her adorable little face! She recently found a mirror on the floor of the bedroom, and started to play with her “new friend” by pouncing and growling on the mirror. Silly girl!

With her delightful face, beautiful long eyelashes above those loving Golden eyes, Miss Annie has found her Heaven on earth. And the Mosel family couldn’t be happier. Congratulations Mike, Cindy, Maddy, and Audrey! Enjoy watching that precious girl grow up! You have a crew of GRR supporters cheering you on (and all of the new families of the Seussical litter)!


Join Gold Ribbon Rescue OR Renew Your Membership for 2017!

Dallas 17-087

Gold Ribbon Rescue members are Golden aficionados. We love all things Golden: getting together at meet-ups, talking and learning from each other, setting up doggie play dates, and finding the perfect Golden t-shirt, mug or holiday decoration. Best of all, we know that our annual membership helps care for more rescue Goldens. Basic membership is $40.00 per year and allows you to attend and vote at our general meeting.
  • $40 (basic membership) pays for a Wellness Exam.
  • $100 (basic membership plus a donation) pays for Rabies, DHLPP and Bordetella vaccinations, a Heartworm test and fecal exam.
  • $250 (basic membership plus a donation) pays for an exam, vaccinations and neuter/spay.
  • $500 (basic membership plus a donation) pays for basic heartworm treatment (for dogs needing x-rays and bloodwork, the cost is an additional $250).
  • $1000 (basic membership plus a donation) pays for orthopedic procedures and surgeries.
Thank you for your membership, any amount is greatly appreciated!

Please consider renewing today by Visa or Mastercard online or you can mail your check to: PO Box 956, Austin TX 78767.

Join or renew your membership by clicking on Membership/Donate. If you've already done so, please disregard.

Thanks as always,
Gold Ribbon Rescue


New Feature: Bonding, Behaviors and Training
Carol Blackwell


Fitz, Fluke and beloved cousin!

Teaching the SIT and RELEASE word:
Banish any notion of pushing your dog’s butt down to make him sit. To the dog this is a really nice back rub, but it won’t get the SIT to repeat on command.

Put your other dogs up and take the dog you’re training into a quiet, non-stressful place. You wouldn’t try to teach your children algebra at the grocery store, right? Dogs most often learn SIT in the kitchen – that’s where most of the food comes randomly.

Have some treats ready. Standing in front of the dog, let him smell the treat and move the treat from the nose backwards over the head. If their head is going up their butt should be going down. If they are jumping up, your hand is too high. As soon as the dog sits, praise and give the treat. It also helps to give a big smile so the dog knows it’s doing something you want . Remember, if they are doing something you don’t want, just be neutral. A mad face will not teach them anything.

Repeat 30 sits in one location one day, move locations and do 30 more sits, third day, 30 sits in new location. I know real life happens so work on 5-10 sits at a time. At the end of the third day you should have an awesome SIT.

As important as SIT is, it’s equally as important to have a “release word”, so that the dog knows when it can move. Many use OK. We use that word so much in daily language, I prefer FREE. Step back or to the side, say FREE and let the dog move.

This doesn’t take long for the dog to catch on.

Happy Training! Your dog will love you for it. To your dog it’s a mind game as much as it is a food puzzle.


Some Like It Hot - Our Dogs Do Not!
Jeroen Naus

If like me you walk your dog every day you've experienced the humidity and warm temperatures, not to mention the sun. Typically your body will start to sweat to help regulate your temperature. Unfortunately our furry friends don't sweat. A dog absorbs heat from the ground up: it comes through the paws and into the rest of his body. So here are a few tips to keep your dog cool:

  • Make sure the surface he walks on is not too warm. Put your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dogs! Walk in shaded areas when possible. If you are unable to walk your dog early or later in the day use dog shoes.
  • If you want to give your dog and yourself a break, a patch of recently sprinkled grass to lay down in can do wonders.
  • When spraying your dog with water, make sure to wet his paws and his belly rather than his back. You can also rub his paws and belly with a wet rag.
  • When going on a hike or walk around the lake, make sure to bring a bowl and water. Collapsible bowls are perfect for this.
  • A great treat for hot summer days is putting peanut butter in a bone or kong and freezing it. There are a lot of frozen dog treat recipes available online.
  • As mentioned before, don't shave your Golden Retriever, her/his coat provides protection against the heat.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of overheating: heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive thirst, glazed eyes, excessive drooling.


Where Are They Now? Seussical Bungus 17-064
Candice Gourley


I'd like to tell you a bit more of Bungus' (17-064) story. Some know it, many do not.

At 6 weeks of age, Bungus went in for amputation surgery. He needed it, and he is growing and gaining weight like crazy because of it. However, in pediatric dogs as small as Bungus (around 5 pounds), there is always a risk. .

The Anesthesia and surgery went wonderfully and his doctor was getting ready to move him for recovery. However she noticed that his mucous membranes looked grayish. She turned him over to check his heart rate and lungs, and Bungus gave an agonal breath. His heart rate was around 2 beats per minute - meaning his heart had stopped and she was listening to its last few beats as Bungus died.

Dr C started immediate compressions and administered epinephrine. The seconds clicked by...10...20...30...40...45...Tiny Bungus lay still, his body lifeless. She was worried she had lost him - Bungus had journeyed to the other side and it appeared that he was not coming back.

However, she wasn't giving up just yet, and she continued her ministrations. Just before 60 seconds had passed, which is when they would have stopped resuscitation efforts, Bungus opened his eyes. As Dr C listened, his heart beat strongly, his breathing deep and normal. Immediately upon opening his eyes, Bungus moved around and made Bungus noises. It was as if nothing had occurred. He ate, he wagged his tail, he gave Bungus kisses.

This little guy is special - for he saw those we love on the other side of the bridge. Who knows if time moves the same way on that side as it does on this. Perhaps he enjoyed a romp through the grass with Wiggins, Noel & Max. Perhaps he saw Bitsie, prancing around, her tail going in circles, completely healed. Perhaps he received kisses from Samantha and Dancer, and bowed politely to big Keegan. I will not know - and may never know for sure - but I think that a Spotted One sent him back. Back to be my boy, to continue the legends and adventures of Los Tres Amigos.

I am both honored and touched to have the opportunity to live with this soul.


GRR Monthly Status Report: June 27th - July 27th


Came into care: 17-074 Ziggy, 17-075 Marley, 17-076 Charlie, 17-077 Lucia, 17-078 Hamilton, 17-079 Jack, 17-080 Isabella, 17-081 Honor, 17-082 Chiquita, 17-089 Sugar, 17-090 Spice, 17-083 Piper, 17-084 Leo, 17-085 Winston, 17-086 Nacho, 17-087 Dallas, 17-088 Lucky, 17-089 Mo, 17-090 Rio

Adopted:17-046 Bonnie,17-068 Ziggy, 17-065 Cindy Lou,17-062 Annie,17-063 Bruster,17-067 Mazey,17-066 Knox,17-052 Jacob,17-030 Daphne,17-025 Fanny,17-053 Kika,17-068 Zizzy,17-064 Bungus,17-044 Jake,17-020 Bevo,17-022 Hero,17-056 Teddy, 16-093 Sadie, 17-079 Jack

Currently in Foster Care: 41 - 16 available/available soon, 16 foster pend adoptions, 10 permanent fosters


Love At First Sight - Riley 17-055
Jim and Jan Parrish

Riley (17-055) is our eighth Golden Retriever and our third rescue.  He greeted us at the door of his foster home – obviously thinking, “You need a dog, and I’m it.”  (He must have read Merle’s Door.)  We loved him immediately and brought him home the next day. He’s a sweet and handsome eight year old with the spirit of a two year old. 

We all benefit from daily walks at 7:30 am and 7:30 pm. If there’s any delay, he whines and goes to his leash.  He is so excited at walk time and at mealtime that he almost does flips.  

We wanted a mature dog with good manners, and we hit the jackpot.  Riley knows “sit” and “stay”, doesn’t get on the furniture, never pees inside and can last all night – from evening walk til morning walk.  He isn’t always interested in going out into the yard at bedtime so it’s a good thing he can hold it all night. 

He’s a snuggler and seemed a bit clingy.  So we watched him a few times on our security camera when we left him home alone.  Something was going on outside that got his attention and he was howling.  His foster dad, Jeff, is a musician and called it “singing.”  Later we noticed that he watches us from the front window when we leave the house.  That explains the water spots on the glass and sill – it’s his drool. 

Riley is good with other dogs – interested and friendly – and he plays nicely at the dog park. But he doesn’t retrieve or play with toys. He loves riding in the car and apparently doesn’t associate car trips with vet visits.  He acted nervous and whined a lot when he arrived for his first visit at the clinic.  

But he isn’t perfect!  A few weeks after we got him, he ran into the backyard, headed to the gate, and returned with skunk spray on his right front leg.  At 83 pounds, he’s too big to lift into the tub, so I put his leg into a small trashcan and scrubbed with liquid detergent and coconut shampoo.  First thing next morning he was at the vet for a bath. Now we check the yard with a flashlight before we go out after dark.  Hopefully Riley and the skunk both learned a lesson!


Soon To Be Ours - Honor 17-081
Cindy Caffey Kralis

We welcomed GRR "Honor" into the Kralis home today. Thank you to the GRR family for getting her here. We call her "Charlie," but whatever her name, it is an honor to be "Honor's" FPA (Foster Pending Adoption) family! She's very skinny and a little anxious, but she's so lovable and loved getting a back yard bath. (And, yes, we are already in love!)


Tails & Trails… discovering Austin’s outdoors with my Golden gal!
Jen Micyk and Kerbey

Onion Creek Greenbelt
7004 Onion Creek Dr.
Austin, Texas

Well, GRR friends, this month’s adventure did not turn out as envisioned. What was intended to be a hike to explore some unnamed trails that I saw on a map turned more into a short walk with a few stops at a good ole watering hole for Kerbey. While I was disappointed in the trail, Kerbey did not seem to mind the choice at all. With the heat turned up about as high as any of us can stand, water was on the top of my list of wants when I searched for a new trail to explore and I came across the Onion Creek Greenbelt.

I had actually been to once before, but it was so many years ago that the memory had faded except for the day’s finale where Kerbey rolled in horse manure. I decided we should give it another try. When I looked on the map it appeared promising with trails on the north and south side of the river. This park is listed as off-leash, but what I learned when we arrived and looked at the posted map is that only the north side of the river is off-leash (for a total of 107 off-leash acres, so maybe I shouldn’t say “only”).

The parking lot is on Onion Creek Dr. and dead-ends into the park. There are plenty of open fields for playing and ball-chasing, and the creek is only a short walk from the parking lot. The water closest to the parking lot seemed fairly clean and it wasn’t too busy on a Friday evening. We followed the trail which runs along the creek heading southwest, and it really was just a flat gravely old jeep road. It’s a nice easy walk if you’re just looking for a stroll and a swimming hole, but it didn’t really suit our hiking style. Unfortunately because of the heat we didn’t spend too much time exploring, and we completely skipped crossing the river and checking out the unmarked trails.

Perhaps the south side has more to offer as far as hiking goes, but that will have to be left for a cooler day. If any of you are familiar with this section of the park I’d love to hear how it is. There are several side trails off the main path that lead to the water and after about 3/4 of a mile we took one of these. This area of water was a bit stagnant and necessitated a bath when we got home. Also beware of stickers- there’s plenty of them! Kerbey gives this park two enthusiastic paws up for a great water spot, wide open spaces for playing, and for not at all feeling like your closed-in typical ‘dog park’. I, however, was less impressed as far as hiking quality goes but will definitely return for Kerbey’s romping pleasure.


Help Wanted

Backup - Website Dog Profile Lead
Time: 2-8 hours a week, depending on the number of dogs in the system.

  • Some experience working within a Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal - as a user, not a developer. We would help you with the details.
  • Be able to crop, size and manipulate the photos so that they fit well on the dog's page.
  • Have good writing, grammar, spelling and punctuation skills.
  • Be able to tell an entertaining story that would make someone want to adopt that particular dog.
  • Have good organizational skills.

Backup - External Facebook Content Lead

Creativity, grammatical skills, ability to use photo manipulation software. Some knowledge of fundraising principles. Most of all, passion for GRR and an interest in helping to tell the stories of its Goldens.

Video producer
Knowledgeable of at least one application to produce videos from existing dog profiles and photos.

Twitter backup (every other month)
Knowledge of the application. Approximately 2 hours a week every other month.

Contact Dawn Marie Rae for more details.


Kicking Cancer's Tail! Part One
Amy Sebesta

I’m sorry. Your dog has cancer. Oh, and she only has about a month to live, maybe two without treatment. Even with treatment, lymphoma is considered terminal with a 5% cure rate.  What? We are not willing to part with our GRR girl at 5-6 years old and less than 3 years in our home. I cannot process this news - fading to black. Let me roll the film back to how we landed here.

On Memorial Day weekend 2017, we boarded both of our GRR girls for a long weekend. By the next Saturday, Maya was clearly not feeling well. She was lethargic, and oddly, barking was obviously painful. We felt around her neck.  What are those PING PONG BALLS doing in my dogs neck? Turns out - dogs have lymph nodes. We assumed a typical viral or bacterial infection from boarding. The vet started antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. In one week, we went for the obligatory re-check.  Maya was totally feeling better though the swelling, while better, was still not fully resolved. It took seconds to get the diagnosis.

Luckily, Austin has a new neighbor, Austin Veterinary Emergency & Specialists (AVES). AVES’ Dr. Timothy Stein is a Board Certified Oncologist (one of less than 300 in the US), and went to the University of Wisconsin - Madison where the leading protocol for canine lymphoma, CHOP, was developed. He gave us every choice from nothing to something to the kitchen sink. The trick was we had to decide that visit, because he was going out of town and days - literally days - mattered. Bring us the kitchen sink!

By the end of the consult, all I heard was mumbling and words like double bag, toxic, and side effects. Without realizing fully what we signed up for, we left the vet with a bag full of meds, a folder full of chemo information sheets, and Maya had already had her first dose of the CHOP protocol. What did we get ourselves into?  I guess there wasn’t time to think about it; we needed to give Maya 14-117 a chance.  The torch of second chances was passed from GRR to us; time to give chance another go.  Now, let’s go kick cancer in the tail!

Although Maya was diagnosed with multicentric lymphoma a few weeks ago, you would never know it! Check out that smile and awesome “Kicking Cancer’s Tail" bandana she sported during a recent chemotherapy appointment!

#TeamMaya #CancerSucks #AVES


Adoption Spotlight: Scooby 17-031

Scooby (17-031) has had a few months for his mange to go away, but during this time he has mainly been proving to his foster folks and anyone who comes to visit what a sweet, sweet boy he is. He also must go through heart worm treatment, but he'll be available soon. He loves EVERYONE and is such a nice boy. He just enjoys life so much that it brings a smile and a chuckle to all humans who pass his way. Let Scooby bring a smile to your face. Read more about him here .

Please visit How To Adopt for more information about adoption. This same page also includes a link to an adoption application.


Thoughts, Prayers and Remembrance

Our Rainbow Bridge: (since July 1 2017)

Rest in peace, our friends and companions...

Miranda 13-137
Paisely 15-141
Louise 17-061

If you would like to submit a memorial of your dog, click here.

Rest in peace dear Mo...


In Loving Memory - Revo
Susan Perry

Revo crossed the rainbow bridge Monday July 17th. He had been sick for about three weeks, had finally started to improve and then suddenly took a turn for the worse.

You may remember him from Swim Fest. He was always the last one out of the water, always reluctant for the fun to end. Mostly, though, he was known for his curly hair, great big grin, tail that wagged so hard his entire body was involved and numerous, wet kisses. He walked through this world trailing pixie dust of love and happiness. Never was he without a smile and brightly shining eyes. He loved every minute of his life. He only wanted to be a good boy (well, except about cat poop) and for me to be happy.

His loss is hard. He had a way of wiggling deep into the hearts of those he loved. He was my heart dog. I’m glad he had so many GRR Goldens to meet him at the bridge.


Where are They Now? Seussical Cindy Lou Who (17-065)
Dori Olsen With The Ohls Family

Cindy Lou Who, who is now Lainey Lou, has found a wonderful new home with Ryan and Ashley Ohls and their two children RJ and Callie Ann. Cindy Lou is one of the Seussical puppies and is as cute as her namesake. She has been with the Ohls since she was 8 weeks old and in only three weeks has become an essential member of the family. Ryan says that she is the sassiest little thing; wonderful and full of love. She is in a major growth spurt and is eating like crazy.

Little Miss Curiosity, as she is lovingly known, has her toys strewn everywhere and particularly enjoys being walked in a stroller by their eight year old daughter Callie Ann. RJ, their eleven year old son, also enjoys this little bundle of fur and love. She is such a smart little thing and already knows “sit.” The family had a Golden who passed on several years ago and always knew that they would have another Golden in their family. Cindy Lou is it!

Cindy Lou has an older brother Brody who is three years old and three-quarters Lab and a quarter Beagle. She follows Brody everywhere and he is setting a great example for her and teaching her manners, something that every beautiful young lady needs. Brody and Cindy Lou are very similar in coloring; both a beautiful golden color.

As she gets older, Cindy Lou can look forward to running, hiking and swimming with her doting new family. Congratulations Ryan, Ashley, RJ and Callie Ann for the newest member of your family. We will all enjoy watching her grow into the wonderful Golden Retriever that she will become.


In Loving Memory - Miranda 13-137
Sara Hougham

July 3 2017

In memory of sweet Miranda 13-137 (GRR permanent foster), who loved running alongside deer through the backyard fence and chasing squirrels (even at her old age of 14ish) lounging in her spot of freshly dug mulch in the garden, and patiently walking through the neighborhood with her two-year-old human sister. Miranda was a beautiful, gentle soul and will be greatly missed by our family. Thank you Gold Ribbon Rescue for your unending support of this sweet girl through her Golden years.


Thank You Picture Parties!

A big shout out to Picture Parties! They have donated 200 $50 dollar certificates for a photo shoot of you and your newly adopted babies! A certificate will be sent to all new adopters. Additionally, they have donated a $100 certificate to our "Hearts of Gold Gala" for our silent auction in October, so stay tuned for that.

Picture Parties are photo mini-sessions brought to your home. There is no sitting fee and hosting is a snap. Choose a professional photographer from their curated list, book your party date and time, and invite your guests.

You can contact Picture Parties below to schedule your party!
See a short video about Picture Parties.


Comforting Your Dog - How It's Very Similar To Comforting Yourself

The other day, my dog Ralph and I were hanging out in the yard when she suddenly started gagging. I jumped up and reached my hand into her mouth to retrieve a huge chunk of stick that had gotten stuck between her tongue and soft palate. Ralph was fine, but visibly shaken, and she didn’t leave my side for the rest of the afternoon.

After the emergency had passed, I wasn’t sure how to soothe my dog. It’s the same uncertainty I feel when she panics at loud noises: what can I do to make my dog feel comforted and safe? Should I pet her, or will that only reinforce her anxiety? Is there a “right way” to soothe an anxious or frightened dog?

When our dogs are scared or hurt, of course, we want to make them feel better. But different situations may call for different reactions. Read on to learn how to comfort your dog, when to let them comfort themselves, and how to tell the difference.

There’s no such thing as “rewarding fear”.

Back in the day, people thought that giving affection and treats during a scary situation might “reward” fear behavior and make it worse. But in fact, your dog’s fear doesn’t work that way at all!

Animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell explains it this way: “No amount of petting is going to make it worthwhile to your dog to feel panicked. Fear is no more fun for dogs than it is for people.” In other words, there’s no such thing as a “reward” for panic and fear.

It may help to put yourself in your dog’s paws. Can you remember a time you felt extremely frightened? Now, imagine somebody gave you a cookie in that situation. You may enjoy the cookie, but are you going to seek out that intense feeling of fear in the hopes that you might get another one? Of course not.

On the other hand, when you’re scared, a cookie might be the last thing you want. Your dog is the same way: sometimes, if they’re feeling anxious or frightened, soothing them with pets or treats won’t help at all. The best way to comfort your dog depends on the situation, and on your unique dog’s personality and preferences.

Amber Lynn

Know the signs & causes of discomfort in dogs

To comfort your dog when they’re feeling anxious, it’s helpful to figure out what’s causing the anxiety. First, learn to identify your dog’s stress signals. These may include:
  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Trembling
  • Fearful body language (ears back, head down)
  • Hiding in an enclose, dark, or “safe” place
Once you know what it looks like when your dog is afraid, you can figure out the cause of their distress. Some common anxiety and fear triggers for dogs are:
  • Loud noises (like thunder or fireworks)
  • Unfamiliar scents and sounds
  • Past experiences (such as a dog who was a past victim of abuse cowering around angry-seeming people)
  • Other animals
  • Medical issues (like Ralph’s choking scare!)
Comfort techniques for dogs

When in doubt, let your dog lead the way. If she comes running to you for comfort, don’t hesitate to give her lots of pets and love! If she hides, don’t rush to coax her out of her safe place, as that may only increase her anxiety. Instead, maintain a calm, quiet, happy environment for her to emerge into when she’s ready.

Here are a few other suggestions for how to comfort a dog depending on the situation:

  • Distraction: If your dog is nervous, but you know they’re obsessed with playing fetch, try distracting them with the tennis ball. Focusing on something else can help them ignore the stressor.

  • Scent therapy: From pheromone diffusers to aromatherapy sprays, scent can be a powerful calming agent for nervous pups.

  • Physical contact: Pet your dog or just sit beside her and let her feel your calming presence. Physical contact helps lower stress in both humans and dogs. Just be sure to maintain your own calm, positive attitude.

  • Exercise: Anxiety can sometimes relieved by physical activity. if your dog has been pacing a lot at home, or acting like they have a lot of pent-up energy, try adding an extra, brisk walk to the daily routine.

  • Offer a time out:
    sometimes, dogs just need a break in a quiet place. If your dog is over-stimulated, more stimulation may make matters worse. Offer them a quiet room or comfy crate to calm down in.
Did you notice that many of the above dog-soothing techniques are similar to how you might soothe a worried child, or even yourself? When your dog is anxious or scared, it helps to remember what you have in common!

Your comfort = your dog’s comfort

One of the most important tips for comforting your dog is to remain calm yourself. Although soothing an anxious dog won’t reinforce their anxiety, anxiety can be “contagious.” If you’re nervous or scared, your dog may pick up on your body language, behavior, and pheromones and become nervous or scared, too.

If your dog is in real danger (like I thought Ralph might be when she was choking on a stick), it can be hard to project a sense of calm! But you can calm yourself down by focusing on your breathing, maintaining a relaxed, confident posture, and speaking slowly and calmly. Your calmness will transfer to your dog. If your dog demonstrates frequent anxiety or fear, you may need to consult a veterinarian and/or a behaviorist. In the meantime, next time something spooks your pooch, don’t hesitate to give her all the comfort she needs.