Blog

Firework and Seasonal Celebration Support


fireworks

My dog is scared of fireworks (and other noises) and help for other seasonal events

Why do some dogs feel firework fear?

  • For some the noise and also the concussivness of modern fireworks is scary, initiating a biological fear response.
  • This can happen any time with any dog, even if they have been ok before.
  • The “ noise” can physically cause discomfort as the dog is sensitive to the air waves, the ground conclusiveness as well as the sound . Dogs hear 4x the distance we do. They pick up higher frequencies than us and the pitch can be excruciating.
  • They are erratic and unpredictable, both within a specific display and between displays ( which now happen from October to January . They seem to stop and then start up .. often louder or a different sound . it is the unpredictability which is so scary.
  • Dogs who are easily sound spooked are more likely to become firework fearful.
  • Managed Exposure and a programme can help young dogs and puppies manage the range of novel sound better.
  • NEVER “flood” by forcing them to watch
  • The more confident the dog is in the first exposure or in subsequent ones the more “bombroof” they will be. This is true of subsequent events, the happier the dog is the easier they will cope.
  • Dogs who are generally anxious or fearful will cope less well with novel sounds.
  • Dogs with any pain or who are unwell will cope less well .
  • The emotional state in the household around this time also impacts, try to be calm and jolly, if others are responding to the noise fearfully or if there has been stress and anxiety generally could add to the anxiety.
  • What does fear look like ?
    A dogs trust survey found 72% of dogs were adversely affected with 10 % seriously impacted.

What does canine fear and anxiety ( stress) look like?

  •  Lip licking, yawning
  • Panting when no exercise or not over heated
  • Refusing food
  • Being “naughty” or “stubborn” (refusing to listen or obey)
  • Very flighty or over excited, easily goes “over the top”
  • Trembling , shaking or drooling
  • Barking whining howling
  • Clingy, or wanting to hide away
  • Seeking touch when usually not keen to be handled or refusing touch when usually snugly
  • Cowering
  • Being destructive
  • Urinating defecating or vomiting for no obvious cause

Learn to read what is usual for your dog. What is their normal behaviour or response to the environment, what is their default like? Learn to read body language .

How can we help?

You cannot reinforce fear by offering appropriate support, If your dog seeks comfort give it, if they seek solitude enable it with your support .

  • Make sure all health conditions are under control, both physical and emotional , pain can impact fear thresholds . Get a vet check , especially ears.
  • Make a Plan
  • Get the whole family and any friends and neighbours involved. Share the plan so everyone knows .
  • Check up on local displays and note the times and days. Local FB groups can be helpful here. If you know local neighbours always have a party or use them on other winter occasions visit and explain if possible and ask for some warning so you can put your plan into action.
  • Change your walk plan if you usually walk in the evening in the winter. Go during the daylight hours (before 16:00 ) or early morning. If this is not possible then miss walks for a few days around this time – don’t be caught out it could have a detrimental impact.
  • If you have to go out use a double lead on collar and harness in case dogs slips out in their fear and flight. Do not let off lead at all.
  • If you have low gates and fences make sure you go into the garden on a lead … try and get the after dinner poo and pee done early, feed early (or use in games … see below)
  • Try not to leave your dog home alone, if this is not possible then make sure your plan includes how you will enable them to be safe without your support. Or arrange for a sitter who knows the plan
  • Plan for being engaged with your dog on the main display days (this is usually between 17:00 and 23:00 )

What to include in your plan

calm games snuffle box

 

Some music –

Consider a therapeutic option – remember there will be a range of what your dogs may respond to, what works for one will not for another, this is because their emotion is different in each case.

I RECOMMEND A  CHECK WITH A VET: ESPECIALLY  IF YOUR DOG HAS OTHER MEDICATIONS OR CONDITIONS

 

  • Bach rescue remedy – very effective for most animals (including us) it is not necessary to have the more extensive dog version. It works with fear of both known and unknown origin and shock.
    Botanical selections, specifically oils.
  • BE CAREFUL – do not vaporise, do not add to the dog, or its bedding (use a separate cloth the dog can choose to engage with
  • make sure there is an exit.
  • Do not use with children under 3 or pups under 6 months.

G self selection powders

 

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Other options

  • consult a vet for clinical support
  • zyclene is often recommended by vets as is nutricalm. ask your vet for information.
  • Tranquil Blend by Hedgerow hounds can help if given a loading  dose usually several weeks
  • skullcap and valerian and st johns wort from Dorwest can also be useful, needing a loading  time of several weeks.

For any further help please contact me:
peacefulpawstherapy@gmail.com @peacefulpawstherapy (FB)
https://peacefulpawstherapy.com

Virtual Consultations

NEW SERVICE

After a many requests and a good deal of successful voluntary electronic support across the UK and indeed globe I have decided to offer a virtual service.

The Electronic Consultation  can cover Training, Therapy or Integrated  Training and Bach/Distance Reiki and Healing).

Following  an in depth written consultation from the Guardian, there will be a discussion around the issues raised. This can be done in a format chosen by the Client, including: email, Skype, Personal Message, WhatsApp or phone.

The initial Consultation will take around and hour for planning and up to an hour discussion at an agreed time. Following this we will put a plan together to initiate the Training and or Therapy.

There will be an open contact via email or PM throughout the following week where the client can share success and further challenge, including video and photos.

There will be 3 following formal  weekly checki-ns; at each the progress will be assessed and the plan modified as needed.

There will be an option for booking further ongoing support.

In some cases (within 1 hour drive of Taunton) it may be useful for a meet up in person. Travel expenses will be charged .

PLEASE NOTE:

  • This service is not suitable for deep behaviour issues and any that seem outside the remit of this service will be referred to a Behaviourist.
  • Common training issues can be covered.
  • Without the personal input , in line with the agreed plan,  progress will be limited.
  • Some needs can not be supported electronically in some cases,.

 

llw focus meme

Calm Dogs are Happy and Healthy Dogs – Something you dream of ?

Being Calm is a much overlooked emotional state for our modern dogs. We have hurried lives ourselves often and this can impact upon them. They can have a quiet , but often not always calm , day and then everyone comes home, it is noisy or busy , anxieties of our day are shed in a cuppa or a glass  of wine as we relax, we may walk the dog to relax ourselves and give them the exercise they need but are we engaging? Are we watching for THEIR needs on the walk? Often I see walkers on phones or for a 20 mins not engaging once with their dog.

For an anxious or unsettled dog, or a dog with medical issues, being naturally calm is not their default.

As for Puppies!! Well we all know what happens when they don’t get enough calm time. They  become demanding, shouting, attention seeking and bitey. This can soon become a learned way, develop a behaviour to access attention or “feel better” and sometimes develop into a dog for whom THIS is a default.

So What can we do ? How can we get this? Just a few images of how my dogs are encouraged to get some rest in between fun (and that is the key).

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I am privileged to be working with a range of colleagues to support dogs to gain this calmness. Currently I am working with the Absolute Dogs Team to become a ProTrainer. Their view is that Calm is essential.

“Calmness s a concept that cant be overrated”

“Arousal levels is made up of lots of little exciting, anxiety inducing or worrying events until their [stress]  bucket is full”. [and their behaviour becomes “Hyper” or over the top]

“Teaching Calm default, a calm existence, a generally calm way of being keeps the [stress] bucket empty”

[by using a calm protocol, having more happy fun events than excitable ones  and complementary support] “When something arousing/challenging happens the bucket doesn’t overflow – it tops up a bit because the dogs brain has learned to calm to empty it”

(quotes from Tom Mitchell from the Absolute Dogs Programme.)

So how do we know if our dogs arousal (excitement, anxious) bucket is overflowing or close to doing so?

What are the signs? Do you recognise any of these? 

Lunging and barking     Destructive    Barking at the slightest thing   

separation anxiety    Not listening (or hearing) what you say   mouthing or biting  

attention seeking with any of the other behaviours, not giving up

humping – toys, people, cushions, air …           zoomies      not eating 

What can we do?

There are 3 types of calm according to the Absolute Dogs Team.

Passive calming – using snuffle mats, Kongs , Treat Balls, scent puzzles

Encouraging Calm (we call it “settle”) catch them genuinely settled and offer a little treat or a calm touch eventually adding a cue helps to get them settled in an environment they find arousing. I love to add music to this time, adding a sensory memory that can be invoked . This is a great way to help calm whilst you are absent or during the night or  in another room. Our favourites are Islands by Ludovico Einaudi ,  The Essence Deva by Premal, The Music Within by  Sat Darshan Singh,  Anand Bliss Snatam Kaur.

Creating a set of uninterrupted spaces – different specific rooms or beds creates a Calmness Protocol a default multisensory quiet place.

tilly crate rest
Tilly in her day rest place

Rest Perhaps the most important of the “Calmness Triad”. A crate, or bed, a safe place. No play here, no interruptions, a place to choose to sleep. Dogs need lots of sleep to process learning and the myriad of sensory inputs during their day. Children need to respect this place and we as adults can use this for the dog to take time away from children or busy homes.

In busy homes a crate cover may help Jo Pritchard (Paws boutique Tamworth) specialises in products to help with creating calm have a look at her beautiful Crate covers

https://pawsboutiquestudio.co.uk/crate-covers

How do you create these calm places?

Calm dog only zones    

  Time outrest , boundary games (see Absolute Dogs Ebook). Value the time in these places, short at first then extend until it becomes a choice, like Tilly above.

Game on- Game off – have fun to tire the mind, managed arousal, fun, but use a start and stop cue… “1…2…3…GOOOO ” and finish with a calming stroke ” all done” .

“Ditch the Bowl” use the majority or even all their dry food allowance (or an alternative for fresh fed dogs) for the games and activities, working for your fun is satisfying and tiring.

Exercise and fitness – manange both the high arousal, fun and fast activities with the managed calm fitness Lola Loves the balance board or even an empty box !lola 2 feet steplola box 2 feetlola sit step

What about the over-aroused, anxious or dog with reactive behaviours ? How else can we help?

Complementary therapies

As an Animal Therapist and Integrated Trainer  I see the signs above of over-arousal or reactivity most days either professionally or out an about. I often suggest trying one of a range of interventions wither commercially available or as one of my modalities.

For information here are some ideas:

For a whole range of information about the following and some shared posts on a range of Canine wellness and therapies have a look at our partner FB page

https://www.facebook.com/pg/peacefulpawstherapy/posts/?ref=page_internal

Bach Flower Therapies for dogs with historical trauma or a general anxiety or fear, these gentle therapeutic essences can be combined into a personalised recipe to enable the body and soul to work with the needs, I have seen amazing results , have a look on the FB page for Bailies story ...and Genghis below – you can see his peace.

Reiki Especially combined with Bach and energy balancing can help manage the calm in over anxious dogs.

Botanical Self Selection – also known as Zoopharmacognosy.  This is very powerful to give the dog some choice about the herbs and aromatics they wish to choose for their specific needs. Every session I take part in is a joy to see and then the calm from the animal after is a joy to see.  Look at Genghis just relaxing into Jasmine and Valerian.

Crystal therapy –some dogs are amazing at being clear about the crystals they need and wearing them as an attachment to a banadana or cage attached to the collar can really help.

Jo at Paws Boutique is currently developing a Bandana to carry a crystal safely or a piece of muslin with a Bach remedy or a self selected essence. We are working with her – watch this space

https://pawsboutiquestudio.co.uk/bandanas-bows/

Offering and finding what they would like is vital …

Below Genghis is Working with Tracy from Calm Creatures

http://www.calmcreatures.co.uk/

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Commercially available Products 

I also work alongside Niki at the Norfolk Apothecary and her AniScentia range. The products are mostly Organic and all self sourced and she creates each product personally using her skills as a Master Herbalist and Aromologist/aromatherapist as well as many years experience as an Animal Therapist.

I have tried all these anxiety and calming  products with great success for my own and clients dogs.

http://www.thenorfolkapothecary.com/panic-anxiety

My Animal Matters – Rachel Windsor Knott Is also another brilliant source of not only Self Selection information but very high quality products. Aimed at both Therpaists and especially interested Pet owners her shop and website and FB pages are a great source of information.

http://www.myanimalmatters.co.uk/

Her anxiety/hyperactive  kits are very useful

http://www.myanimalmatters.co.uk/product-tag/anxiety/

http://www.myanimalmatters.co.uk/product-tag/hyperactive-behaviours/

 

Finally … If you would like some help to support calm in your puppy or your older dog. Please ask, we can offer:

Therapeutic support

Training and Games

1-1 support 

Classes

Remember – Calm Dogs are Happy and Healthy Dogs

Fun in the Snow … or is it fun for everyone? Do dogs NEED a walk every day whatever?

genghis snow18In the UK this week temperatures have plummeted from the average for the time of year at around 7C  to daytime of -3+ C and a wind chill of -10C+ with a significant snowfall for many and where there is less, pavements are bitterly cold.

Not much fun for us, schools are closed due to the injury risk  (A&E really does not need the extra work) . Children are thoroughly wrapped up and a limited time given on their outdoor play at home. We would not take out our very young children and are urged to check on our old people.  We have been urged to bring in our outdoor pets such as roaming cats and rabbits etc.

For the young and the majority of our dogs  this is the first time in around 10 years most have experienced this weather.

So for our dogs especially, those lovely pets we snuggle at night in our centrally heated homes, this is quite a temperature shock. Their feet are not prepared for this level of biting icy cold – this is where they sweat where there are many nerves to help them make sense and stay away from danger, as our hands and feet are.

So when I see and hear of dogs who are just not prepared for this unwilling, not of choice,  trudging through the snow, shivering or picking feet comically, with unhappy disengaged companions my heart goes to them, just  “because it is walk time” often early morning or late afternoon.

My dog (above) chooses on these days what we will do. On the whole he rushes out pees and poos has a roll around and a little bounce (he is after all a snow dog by DNA, not used to the temperature but still has a love of the white stuff locked away) then he rushes in a gets warm, snoozing on his sofa until the next pee break or I get the toys out.

Yesterday we had an enforced walk out, we could not stay at home to keep a tradeperson and he safe. It was cold but not too cold and as you see not much ice or snow. He rolled and bounced for around 10-15 mins , then slowed down, we came home then, he rested the rest of the day until tea time when he asked for some games. It took him hours to recover, he has arthritis. He will not “go for a walk ” until he and  I feel it is comfortable for him. He will go out and engage in the environment, he will have plenty of exercise and fun and tiring activity. All in the comfort of my home, where he is medically comfortable.

Like wise my health puppy will get to choose what she does and how long for, she likes the snow and we play with her for as long as she chooses or we feel is ok for her delicate paws. Then for her, some training time interspersed with games and fun and rest, learning to calm.

So what do we do instead? The list is endless and these are some ideas, this is not exhaustive , these are some of their favourites:

  • chase with a toy , or fetch the rolling ball, waiting until released (3-2-1 … GOOOO) is our current skill to be learned.
  • boundary games (again self control) being rewarded for choosing to stay on the bed or go on and wait to be released, all fun and games. A  new skill is waiting for their turn to be released for a game by name.
  • tricks, our favourites: spin, leg weaves, 2 paws or balance any 2 or 3- using different places and textures (both great for body condition).
  • Noise box -get the recycling ready – boxes, card tubes, plastic bottles, paper, add some biscuits into any of them   put into a large box or tray sprinkle in some more (or better still grated cheese or another fun food) and make a cuppa and let them exercise themselves! This is a great way to feed biscuit/kibble fed dogs their breakfast.
  • Snuffle mats or treat search –snuffle mats are fleece covered mats (or use a loopy bathroom mat or towel) with a sprinkling of fun foods, breakfast or left over bits of human meat or grated veg. Treat search, hide it let them find it.
  • Practice our basics sit, down, stand, leave, wait, walk by my side, leash on and off, release words for play. What words do they know FIRST TIME/ INSTANTLY? They all need reminders. Practice Stay from room to room until called. How long can they stay  ? How far? can you make it longer, further? What vocabulary does your dog know?
  • Behaviour chains put together tricks (above) and commands and wait times in basics. This is one of our favourites .
  • OUR two favourites? The Orientation Game – Use a handful of their food allowance or some favourite but healthy food. sit on the floor or on a low chair settee. throw out one piece, they chase then as they look back throw another and repeat, they soon learn to look back to you for what happen next. This has transformed our Loose Lead Walking and Recall. Proximity chase a similar one but on the move… drop a bit and run as they catch you, drop and run, repeat … play this is in the snow too for a quick exercise !

It is worth noting that research and science is showing that 15 mins a day games as above is worth an hour of traditional “tiring out”.  Also remember to intersperse different levels of play so they don’t get too hyper, adding in calm time and massage or stroking.

It needs engagement between the participants and deepens relationships, impacting on Loose lead walking and Recall – the issues trainers like us get as the primary request for help.

How do I have time to do this? In short sharp sessions, 10 bits of food at a time, no more than 5 mins mostly 3 mins. choosing from the list to play not everything! Mixing up fun and furious with calm and quiet and having time off, as well as massage and TTouch. This is the time it takes to boil the kettle for your hot chocolate, or boil up your soup!

Have fun, stay safe and put your companions needs up there first,  rather than an increasingly  outdated view of canine exercise.  For more information or help or just to share your fun please visit @peacefulpawstherapy  Facebook page or message me.