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FIREWORKS AND THUNDERSTORMS

Yes, it’s that time of year that all dog owners dread. However if you have a dog who is troubled by the noise from fireworks you can use a variety of strategies to deal with the problem. Different methods, or a combination, will work with different dogs and will be appropriate for different degrees of reaction.

A PLACE OF SAFETY

Slight upset can usually be dealt with by drawing curtains to cut out disturbance from ‘flashes’.. Move the bed to a cosy corner/ behind settee/under table/under stairs so the dog has a ‘place of safety’. My old dog Jake used to retire to the bathroom and liked the window blind let down. Milly takes herself off to a corner in the bedroom behind a chair.

DISTRACTIONS

Put on a radio or television before the fireworks start. We find that 3 radios in our kennel in each aisle work very well. We always have night lights on and close all the outside doors so the dogs usually have no idea what’s going on outside.

In the home toys and chews work well to distract your dog as well. BUT DO avoid really loud music or ‘aggressive’ television programmes – they can be as upsetting to an animal as the fireworks. Remember dogs have very sensitive ears.

YOUR BEHAVIOUR

Try not to show your dog you are upset or annoyed. Don’t fuss or pet him/her more than normal as this will only reinforce any fearful behaviour as they will think you are rewarding their fear. NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK IF YOU REINFORCE YOUR DOGS’ FEAR.

TOILET/WATER

Get the dog outside and made comfortable before the display starts and hopefully later when all is over. Avoid your usual late night walk and just use the garden and stay with the dog. Make sure fresh drinking water is available (as it always should be). Dogs who are stressed often drink more water than normal.

OTHER SOLUTIONS YOU MAY NEED TO TRY

Most of these strategies need to be planned well in advance

DESENSITIZING TAPES

These may work with some dogs. MUST BE USED OVER A PERIOD OF SEVERAL WEEKS. You play the tapes quietly to start, then gradually increase the volume. Use for short periods of time only when the dog is doing something they like: eating/playing etc.

www.fearoffireworks.com
www.soundsscary.com

HOMEOPATHY

Kali Phos (available from health food shops) works on some dogs. Try 1 Tablet every 15mins for a maximum of one and half hours. OR..

Bach Rescue Remedy – 8-10 drops in the drinking water. You need to start a week before the fireworks start OR..

Bach Rescue Remedy Spray (Boots or other chemists) 2 squirts on tongue as noises start.

DOG APPEASING PHEROMONES

This is a longer term solution.

You need to buy a plug in diffuser from your Vet (£25-£30) and a refill (£20 approx), the refill has to be replaced each year.

When the unit is plugged into an electric socket it gently disperses the Pheromones into to atmosphere (unit and dog need to be in same room). Pheromones are chemicals that all animals produce as a form of communication with each other i.e. mothers to appease their pups in fearful situations etc, animals when they are looking for mates.

They can be very useful in calming distressed dogs (and cats) and support the strategies we have talked about above.

If you are interested talk to your vet or look at research i.e.

www.gurney.co.uk
www.vet-medic.com
www.fearoffireworks.com

VETERINARY ASSISTANCE

In extreme cases you may need to talk to your vet about Tranquilizers which they can prescribe.

If you live in an area where fireworks are a big problem you can often make your views known to various pressure groups including the RSPCA and you can complain to your Local Authority. A lot of people are concerned about the proliferation of random ‘displays’ and the growing size of many products.