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?