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So, help out a new owner with regards to fireworks

(19 Posts)

I'm already having trouble getting our pup to go outside at night to wee (I think he's scared of the dark), but now that the local divs are already throwing the odd rocket about hmm I was wondering how you help your dog cope with the bangs. All advice gratefully recieved.

Booboostoo Tue 11-Oct-11 21:12:47

DAP collars and difusers can help some dogs.

lilyliz Tue 11-Oct-11 21:28:30

see how it goes this year and don't make a fuss about it,maybe even take him a short walk with some bangs in the distance to hear.My dog loves 5 Nov and sits on the steps outside to watch,mind you she is frightened of kids dressed up at hallow een.

tabulahrasa Tue 11-Oct-11 21:29:56

Don't react, don't reassure him - just act like they're completely normal and see how he goes

ThePieSmuggler Tue 11-Oct-11 21:31:37

There's a desensitisation programme called 'Sounds Scary', it's a cd with frightening noises on that you play at very low vines whilst doing something pleasant eg feeding or playing, if you follow it properly it's great, but it's not a quick fix, DAP may be your best bet now.

ThePieSmuggler Tue 11-Oct-11 21:32:09

Vines?? volume! smile

GrimmaTheNome Tue 11-Oct-11 21:35:26

Our dog, and the previous one don't worry at all. Maybe it helps that there's farmland at the back with some hapless bunny or pheasant being shot at all year round - bangs are normal in the 'quiet' countryside!

Scuttlebutter Tue 11-Oct-11 23:09:29

It's probably too late in the year to start a thorough desenitisation programme with a CD, since that takes a very long time, though it would probably be worth doing for next year.

I'd pop your dog on a lead when you take them out for a wee after dark - ours seem to find this reassuring, and it ensures they won't bolt back to the house before performing, if necessary. If you walk them in the evenings, then I'd keep them on lead to prevent bolting in fear, if a sudden random bang goes off.

Don't wait till Nov 4th to discuss with vet - grin - see them now and discuss options, including a DAP diffuser. We have a whole selection of dog responses here - one who doesn't give a hoot, one who gets a bit wound up occasionally , and one who gets absolutely petrified. The one who gets petrified actually takes Valium on the three or four worse nights (and on NYE). We make sure we are in with her, that curtains are drawn early, soft music is playing (nothing too loud) and she has the option of either lurking upstairs, or on the sofa with us, or after we are in bed, she will often come to bed with us as she is so frightened. The Valium has been brilliant - it has helped a lot for the worst nights. The other thing to consider is actually taking them away if you live in an area which is very very noisy and spending the evening somewhere remote and quiet.

I've been reading about the Thundershirt, but remain to be convinced.

ThePieSmuggler Wed 12-Oct-11 00:19:13

Just a quick comment regarding the use of diazepam (Valium) in dogs. The current thinking is that although the dog is apparently more relaxed this is actually due to the physical effects of the drug and that mentally they are no calmer than without the drug. So they are just as scared/anxious/worried as before but they don't or can't physically react to this emotion. In my opinion this isn't particularly fair on the dog! Also when using diazepam the fear can actually get worse over time, not as a direct result of the drug but more a learned reaction. If you do end up being prescribed sedative type medication then Xanax is a better option as it has more of a dissociative component therefore reducing the escalation of the fear reaction but also providing mental relief for the dog too.

elastamum Wed 12-Oct-11 00:33:11

Valium might or might not help. 2 of mine were absolutely hyper on it. I give mine a meal of boiled rice and chicken as the carbs make them sleepy. Big walk early on then shut in on the other side of the house with music on and blinds drawn. they hate fireworks but seem to be OK with the above

Thanks everyone. I think I'll see how he goes this year. We won't be going out, so I can sit with him and fully assess how he reacts. Great tip about the carb heavy meal, and I'll definitely give that a go. Unfortunately, the local leisure centre puts on a display for the 5th, so we're quite close.

notmeagain Wed 12-Oct-11 10:36:45

Basically if you dog has not yet shown major fear issues with fireworks I would
avoid going out when fireworks are going off
Turn the telly up in the house and close all curtains and be very upbeat.
Maybe play a favourite game when they are going off a game of tuggy will release any anxiety and also show the puppy that fireworks are ok as great fun games happen.

If your dog is already showing fear you have left it too late for this year so make a den the dog can hide in put on a tight t-shirt (works as a thundershirt) dull the noise from the fireworks as much as possible and IGNORE the dog. I would strongly advise against medicating as mentioned above it can make the dog much much worse in the long term.

For next year start to desensitise early November 6th! Get a recording of fireworks and very quietly having it playing when the dog is eating his food - if it distracts him it is too loud. Over the next few months turn up the volume until you can get to the stage of him eating during a full blown attack! This will take months but it easy to do and much kinder for your dog.

Scuttlebutter Wed 12-Oct-11 12:52:44

Pie, are you a vet/researcher? Could you point to any journal articles illustrating the point you have made, particularly comparing Xanax and Valium? Can then discuss with our vet. Thanks.

FrillyMilly Wed 12-Oct-11 13:01:37

Our dog is 9 and petrified of fireworks. It's the only time he barks!! We tend to make sure all windows are shut and keep the Telly on loud. When it's bed time we put him on the landing as it has no windows/external wall so fairly quiet. We also give him a big bowl of pasta. This does seem to make a big difference as makes him quite sleepy.

Scuttlebutter Wed 12-Oct-11 13:08:20

Link here to the BSAVA policy statement on treating Firework Phobias, though note that they point out that given the very high max decibel level of some fireworks, a phobia is probably not an appropriate description, since dogs will be producing what is a normal fear response to a very loud noise.

ThePieSmuggler Wed 12-Oct-11 23:38:32

Scuttle, I'm a vet (although currently on maternity leave) but I'm afraid I don't have any research references to hand,however ime most vets will use Xanax over diazepam anyway. I didn't think ACP (as mentioned in the BSAVA article) was being used for noise phobias so much these days. I have had some limited success using scullcap and valerian as an alternative if you prefer herbal remedies but it really does depend on the level of anxiety present ( they take the edge off in some cases but are pretty useless used alone if the reaction is severe) HTH

higgle Thu 13-Oct-11 09:42:45

We have owned 4 dogs and none of them have minded about fireworks at all, one used to watch with interest from a window when we set ours off. My brother however has had two that mind a lot - one panicked and ate the doors off his kitchen cupboards when she was along one evening and there were unexpected fireworks nearby. She is OK if they are at home, just if there are loud bangs and she is on her own or with the other dog ( who has picked up the firework anxiety from her)

RunnerHasbeen Thu 13-Oct-11 10:12:58

Our dog was a nervous wreck the first time he heard fireworks (or a spoon dropped on the floor, or the microwave pinging), but my parents have a dog who is fine. When they are together, our dog isn't bothered either - almost like he takes his cue from the other dog. If he has any doggy mates that you know will be okay, they could maybe come round? I'm not a behaviourist or anything though - it was a surprise to see this happen. He has become desensitised over time though, but we live in a city with a whole month of fireworks every summer, so he was able to get over the surprise (not from dropped spoons though, unfortunately)!

Scuttlebutter Sat 15-Oct-11 00:05:22

Thanks Pie, we are seeing the vet next week and will discuss this. She was only prescribed the Valium this time last year for the first time so am a bit confused but we've had a change of personnel in the practice so will be interesting to get a fresh take on this. I'm not a fan of herbal/woo generally - if there's good research to support something then I'll consider it, otherwise we're firmly woo-free. grin

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