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
- 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 .
- The dog decoder app is a brilliant source https://www.dogdecoder.com
- as is the website silent conversations. https://www.silentconversations.com/introduction-to-dog-body-language/
How can we help?
- Do some research, there is so much available now about noise sensitivity.
Dogs trust – sounds scary – cd and soundcloud download. https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets
- Toni shelbourne book http://www.tonishelbourne.co.uk/current-books/help..-my-dog-is-scared-of-fireworks-by-toni-shelbourne-and-karen-bush http://www.naturallyhappydogs.com/watch/helping-dogs-who-are-scared-of-fireworks-or-thunder
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
- A safe place or den space in case they need it
- A walk routine
- Get some special food
- Make a list of games and enrichment ideas to play and gather the resources ready. Get a container with a LOT of treat sized food ready … no bigger than a little finger nail. Ideas: cheese, sausage, dried sprats, dried chicken, cooked chicken or other meat.
- Some fun Kikopup games, also look at some of her basics training, all positive and recommended .
- Kyra Sundance is a world renowned Dog Trick trainer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTMVJgTOapU
- Canine enrichment FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/canineenrichment is brilliant for easy to make and do games and activities.
- Don’t forget Kongs with a lovely mix of stuff https://www.bathcatsanddogshome.org.uk/uploads/documents/1343214425_kongrecipes.pdf
Some music –
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCRGevu2Eg0 through a dogs ear.
- Or your own calming choice .Learn some ttouch – this is a recommended free course .
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.
- Allow the dog to select the choices.
- My animal Matters has a bespoke kit
- Pet remedy – commercially available in vets and pets at home etc.- use as botanical advice above.
- Aniscentia – a range of glycerites and sprays which can support fear and promote calm… use before the events
Reiki can help to calm. Many practitioners work at a distance at this time.
- 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.