Inside this Issue:
NOISE AND STORM PHOBIAS IN DOGS
Noise and Storm Phobias in Dogs
The season is upon us – thunderstorms are almost a daily occurrence, and come July – there are the dreaded fireworks displays! How often do we see our dogs either run to us for comfort, or in extreme cases, hurt themselves trying to escape – even running away from the homestead, only to get lost. Many dogs suffer from noise phobias regardless of the source of the loud noise – fireworks, gunshots, a vehicle backfiring, you name it.
Little is known why some dogs react like they do to loud noises. But, one thing is for sure – they get worse, not better, with time. The age old way of getting a fearful hunting dog to accept gunfire by subjecting the dog to more and more gunfire not only is counter productive, but it is cruel. It just plain does not work. Same goes for storms and other loud noises. So, it is best to deal with the problem with some behavior modification, homeopathic remedies and in the most severe cases, drug intervention.
Do’s and Don't’s – there are no magic answers.
Try a combination of these things:
2. ALWAYS be sure your pet has the proper identification on his/her collar, and microchip your pet ASAP. In the event your pet runs away to “escape” the noise/storm/fireworks, they can make their way back to you when they are found.
3. Do try behavior modification. Do not comfort your dog when the storms are present – this just reinforces the behavior. Instead – put in some work ahead of time. Get an old mat that your dog can lie on – this mat is not the dog’s normal bed . Teach your dog to go to the mat and lie down – use the word “Mat”, again – saving this mat and command for the fearful times. Massage your dog until he goes to sleep. Then, over time, gradually remove yourself from the lessons – just using the word “Mat” to get your dog to come, relax and sleep. Then, add a thunderstorm recording at the lowest volume. Such that he looks up but goes back to sleep. Play half hour while he is massaged / relaxed on mat. Repeat 2 or 3 days at that volume. Resting well? Day 4 start low, after 5 minutes, increase volume just a tad. Etc etc until at full volume.
4. Do teach your pet to go into a crate. A crate must be their safe place – never use it for punishment. DO NOT LOCK your pet in a crate if the fear is so intense that they will do anything to get out. Many Pets have been severely injured trying to get away.
5. Do try putting one drop of pure peppermint oil on each footpad.
6. Do try a Thundershirt or an AnxietyWrap. This is a shirt that fits snugly on your dog that makes them feel as if they are being “hugged” – this is good if you have to go to work on a day that storms are forecasted. It targets acupressure points on the dog’s body to aid in the calming effect from the light pressure of the garment.
7. Do try a D.A.P. Collar (see your vet for this – some of the pet stores sell one but I don’t think their version works well). The collar is impregnated with Dog Appeasing Pheromone – a hormone that an adult female dog puts out when she is nursing – it calms them. D.A.P. also comes in a plug in diffuser.
8. Pharmacological intervention – i.e. drugs. There are excellent human agents that also work well in dogs, valium and Xanax are just two – see your veterinarian for more information. Remember – you don't want to sedate your dog. The result will be a drunk dog that is still afraid! You want something to treat the anxiety – to stop the distress while the animal can still act normal.
It is possible to help these family members – I know – I have one, and she is not my first. For my tri-pod dog, Aggie, a Thundershirt and a D.A.P. collar are the ticket. But, it may not always be that way – we may need to do more. I'll let you know after the 4th of July!
As the warm weather arrives, please make sure your pets have fresh water, shade and NEVER, EVER leave unattended in a hot car!
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