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How do I help ddog2 stay calm when the fireworks go off?

(22 Posts)
SDTGisASpookyWoooolefGenius Thu 30-Oct-14 12:48:55

Ddog2 is a rescue dog - we think she is lab-pointer cross. Due to her history (two homes prior to the Dogs Trust, including one where she was a breeding dog), and having been in the kennels, she is somewhat neurotic - maybe she always would have been a bit neurotic, but I think her history has made it worse.

She absolutely hates the fireworks - she barks her head off whilst they are going on, and then trembles for ages. Last night we had one go off - only one, but a big one - and she trembled for nearly an hour, next to me on the couch.

We have ordered an Adaptil collar for her, but it hasn't arrived yet, and we offer her lots of reassurance, stay with her - I have even tried covering her in a blanket, to see if that made her feel more secure. Her bed is in the alcove under the stairs, and we've always thought that was somewhere where the dogs could feel enclosed and secure - in a good way, if you see what I mean.

I draw the curtains, when the fireworks start, and close the doors too, so she is just in one room with us, and I put the TV on, if it isn't already on. It is a particular worry this year because she has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligaments in both hind knees, and I am keen that she doesn't get agitated and start jumping around, and risk further damage or causing herself more discomfort. When she is really worried, she climbs up onto the back of the couch, behind - and basically on - my head - we say she is getting to higher ground - but I don't think this would be a good idea for her to do, under current circumstances.

Is there anything else I can do? I have thought of asking for a sedative from the vet.

starsandmoonandback Thu 30-Oct-14 12:55:01

My vets have a load of adaptil tablets on the shelves. Can you pop in to yours and get some?

Also put tv or radio on super loud to block some fireworks noise? I know they can 'feel' it too but it might help?

My elderly dog used to be so frightened and shake like a leaf, however, he is now deaf and it's sorted that problem out grin

Hope your dog gets through ok. smile

needapee Thu 30-Oct-14 20:52:14

Two sources of music in different places disguise outside sounds better - TV and radio both playing music with a strong beat is ideal.

Cotton wool loosely placed in the ear can be useful. Feeding a starchy meal in the early evening boosts happy hormones. Occupying dogs with exciting food toys or chews can be useful - break out the sardines, chorizo and liver paste for this one.

Your vet may prescribe diazepam or alprazolam which relieve a dog's feelings of anxiety rather than just sedating them. You could also try Zylkene capsules which seem very helpful in some cases. If a vet tries to give you something called ACP refuse it - this makes noise phobias worse.

Once this is over it would be worth buying a Sounds Scary CD which has recordings of fireworks sounds. You can use this to very gradually desensitise her to the noise, incredibly low volume and slowly working up.

SDTGisASpookyWoooolefGenius Thu 30-Oct-14 21:15:29

That is all very useful advice - thank-you.

Interestingly she isn't at all bothered by firework sounds or other loud bangs on the TV.

muttynutty Thu 30-Oct-14 22:17:35

Thundershirt works well for many dogs here
Make a safe dark den - many dogs love to hide.
If your dog does want cuddles from you do give them to her it will not make her worse
Make sure you are not showing signs of stress be calm happy - normal as possible

DraaaamaghAlpacaaaagh Thu 30-Oct-14 22:29:38

Poor Ddog2 sad

Some great advice here, which I will be taking on board for my springers. Our late springer was the same, terrified of fireworks and also of thunder. She'd retreat to under the stairs, the very centre of the house, where she felt safe. In old age she went deaf so that solved the problem.

<am liking the Hallowe'en namechange, SDTG grin>

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 31-Oct-14 07:09:01

We are having huge success with nutracalm seems much better than the other products it activates GABA, serotinin and dopamine so acts on nearly all the anxiety areas of the brain.

SunshineAndShadows Fri 31-Oct-14 07:19:49

Ask your vet for alprazolam it's an anti anxiety medication that works brilliantly for phobias. Then over the next 12 months it's probably worth starting a desensitisation programme with a sounds scary DVD to gradually desensitise her to fireworks. Good luck

Mrsjayy Fri 31-Oct-14 15:54:56

We have ours on medication he started on monday to build up iyswim we also have a thundershirt but he hates it and goes balistic we have had it on him every day forcweeks sigh he is fine with loud bangs on telly it is the combo of the noise and vibrations the vet nurse told us,

LividofLondon Sat 01-Nov-14 20:10:20

"...we offer her lots of reassurance..."
"...she climbs up onto the back of the couch..."

What exactly do you do? Could this be making things worse? I was always lead to believe that the worst thing you can do when a dog is exhibiting signs of being afraid of something like fireworks is to do anything that could be misconstrued as praising, eg petting, praising toned talk.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 01-Nov-14 20:22:14

My DDog started with a firework phobia this year. So I took my own advice and now two nights in a row he has popped his dose of nutracalm at 6pm. Currently there is a massive fireworks display going on less than half a mile away and he is curled up on the sofa in his normal position sound asleep.

SDTGisASpookyWoooolefGenius Sat 01-Nov-14 20:24:13

We talk to her in a calm tone of voice, say the sorts of things we usually say to her, sit on the couch either side of her - but yes, we do have to be careful - maybe reassurance was the wrong term, because perhaps if we are reassuring her, that makes her believe there is something she needs reassuring about.

The back of the couch thing is if there is tension in the house - if ds3 gets cross with dh or me, or if dh or I have Words - it isn't really a response to the fireworks (maybe I was wrong to mention it, as it was a bit if a red herring) - but it is another demonstration of how her neuroses show themselves.

We've just had another bout of firework-related shivering, but dh and I sat either side if her, so she was very snug between us, and in lieu of a thundershirt, we put a cushion on her, and cuddled her securely, and kept our voices normal - and it did settle down pretty quickly.

lougle Sat 01-Nov-14 20:35:06

It's bizarre. Patch is scared of everything -autumn leaves on the ground. Puddles, snow, the wind. Headlight reflections in windows.... The list goes on.

He doesn't react at all to fireworks. Doesn't even appear to hear them. confused

basildonbond Sun 02-Nov-14 08:28:07

Our old lab was petrified of fireworks and thunder - eventually the vet prescribed her Valium which did work but wasn't a longterm solution. The longterm solution was actually her going deaf - once she couldn't hear she was much calmer

Ironically she was supposed to be a gundog - we got her at 3.5 months because her breeder, who'd been planning to work her, realised that she was a bag of nerves from the start and there was no way shed cope with gunshot noise ..

cafesociety Mon 03-Nov-14 22:34:51

Thunder jackets seem to be effective. Or maybe hold the dog close with a blanket tucked firmly around him/her for a similar effect. And no reactions to the fireworks coming from yourself of course.

SDTGisASpookyWoooolefGenius Tue 04-Nov-14 11:15:02

We did something very much like that this weekend, cafesociety - we had the dog firmly tucked in between us, and I sort-of held a cushion firmly on her torso (sounds stupid when I say it, but it did seem to help), and dh and I watched tv and made normal conversation, and she did seem to calm down much quicker than previously.

Dinglethdragon Tue 04-Nov-14 11:21:06

it sounds harsh but I think you need to pretty much ignore her and the fireworks, pretend they are not happening, just move about the house doing stuff, talking normally.

I've had dogs that were firework phobic and others that would go out to watch them so i do know what it's like and all your instincts are to give reassurance - but I really don't think it helps. My dc used to try to reassure our most phobic dog and life was really so much easier when they were out (at a fireworks party) and it was just me and the dog. She trembled but was nowhere near as terrified as when she was being 'comforted'.

SDTGisASpookyWoooolefGenius Wed 05-Nov-14 18:34:19

She is on the back of the couch behind me, trembling. I have drawn the curtains, shut the doors and wrapped her in a blanket, and she has a DAP collar from the vet, but someone is letting them off close by, and that has been too much for her. sad. I am doing my best to act normally and calmly - I hope it is helping.

SDTGisASpookyWoooolefGenius Wed 05-Nov-14 19:22:56

Bloody hell - almost no fireworks locally last year - this time fireworks to the left of us, fireworks to the right of us, fireworks all around us thundering and roaring. It is the charge of the Light Brigade, with sparkles.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 06-Nov-14 10:37:54

Hope she's okay this morning. Ours had only been a bit barky towards fireworks, and was actually fine outside on the lead with some going off in the next street, until he got back through his own gate when he instantly went into guard mode and started shouting.
Last night was a whole different story. He asked to go out for a wee and I opened the back door, as the street had been quiet up to then, and went outside with him. My neighbour across the road chose that precise moment to kick off his display with some really loud bangers, which sent Ddog scrabbling frantically for the door. He spent the rest of the night alternately barking and hiding behind the sofa.
Now he's on the alert for anything remotely fireworky, and went bananas at an advert for Alton Towers on telly earlier. He even hid behind the sofa again when I got his lead out for walkies, and had to be lured out with a chunk of extra mature Cheddar.
Oh, and he ended up doing his wee (and a bonus poo) on the hall carpet, so it was all worth it.

digerd Thu 06-Nov-14 12:14:41

I had to resort to throwing her squeaky ball around the room for her to try to take her mind off the noises but she still paced non-stop round the room with ball in mouth and panting with fear/anxiety
Also ate my tea and and gave her tit bits - which worked really well smile

Lilcamper Thu 06-Nov-14 12:35:30

Totally fine to reassure her. Fear is an emotion not a behaviour and it can't be reinforced.

If your doors are normally open, leave them open. She could also be feeling 'trapped' which would add to her stress.

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