Managing sound phobias. Coping with fireworks
Sound phobias are very common.
Preparation is all-important if your dog is to get through firework night, or similar events, with the minimum of fear and stress.
Here are some methods that can be used to help your dog.
· Don’t punish your dog when it is scared.
· Don’t fuss or try to reassure your dog when it is scared.
These both confirm that there is something to be afraid of and will reinforce the scared panicked behaviour, making the problem worse.
· Do ignore any fearful behaviour that occurs for no good reason. Only show attention and affection to your
dog when he has begun to relax.
· If possible give your dog a good walk in the afternoon (a tired dog is a sleepy dog).
· Feed your dog a good meal rich in carbohydrate mid to late afternoon.
Do not try this if your dog is prone to diarrhoea.
· Keep your evening routine as normal as possible, close the curtains before any fireworks start. Fill the rooms
you use with everything you will need for the evening, including toys and treats for your dog.
· For dogs that wish to hide away, provide them with a small darkened area such as a covered dog crate or table
to hide under. The crate should be available well before the event so your pet can get used to using it.
· Put some music or the T.V on try to stick with whatever would normally be on just increase the volume slightly.
· Settle down for the evening, do ignore all noises yourself, this will set a good example for your dog to follow.
· Try to engage your dog in a game before any stress to occupy him.
· Never leave a fearful dog home alone.
· Try ‘Zylkene’ capsules these are a natural product made from a protein found in milk which is proven to
help manage stress in dogs and cats, speak to a nurse for further details.
· Using a D.A.P (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) - all lactating females release substances called
appeasing” pheromones, the function of which is to reassure her offspring. Research shows that
the reassuring properties of the pheromone persist into adulthood. The use of a D.A.P will help to replicate
these feelings of wellbeing therefore reducing fear and stress – speak to a nurse for further details.
One of the best options for a dog or cat who is frightened of fireworks is to allow them to hide. Never try to stop a frightened animal from hiding; even if it is in an inappropriate place.
Create a “Pet Den” for them to hide in.
Having a crate or pop up cloth kennel for your dog to go to in times of stress or fear is an excellent way to help your dog cope and calm down. It is very natural for a dog to want to hide in a small dark space; just as a fox cub would run back to its den if it was frightened by something.
Set it up a few weeks before fireworks are expected. Ideally it should be available all year for a very nervous dog.
How to set up a pet den
- Find a crate or cloth kennel that is big enough for your dog to stand up and lie down in. Do not make it too big - your dog will feel safer in a small space.
- Put some insulation such as extra layers of carpet or cardboard underneath. This will help insulate from vibrations made by the fireworks.
- Set it up on an inside wall if possible. If not insulate the den from an outside wall to dampen vibrations.
- Do not put it where it will isolate your dog from the family. Your dog may already have a favourite refuge place. Where does your dog go during a family argument for example?
- Fill it with bedding and a few cushions or small blankets to give your dog something to hide in.
- Cover the crate with a blanket to make it as dark as possible and to help sound proof it
Chews and food
Fire work season is not a time to worry about your dog’s waistline
Try to encourage chewing and eating. Do some training or play games with toy and food rewards. Your dog can not be frightened and eat at the same time. Stock up on chews and special treat.
Help them find somewhere to hide. Open wardrobe doors slightly or place a cardboard box under your bed.
Make sure they are in the house well before it gets dark.
If your cat is frightened it is best to leave him/her alone. Cats prefer to be on their own in times of stress. Cats can learn to use a “pet den” they are not just for dogs. But usually prefer them up high.