As the title says really...is there anybody who has managed to help their dog get over its fear of fireworks, or improved the level of fear, and if so, can you tell me how you did this?
Still going off around here, sometimes only one during the whole night but that one firework is enough to set him off panting, pacing and shaking for the next two hours. I don't want to use medication if I can help it so I would be grateful if anyone could share their tips with me? Do the sound cds work? Thanks in advance for any help
We have seen a massive improvement. What works for each dog varies but we tried pretty much everything until we found what worked.
You basically need to get ddog to low enough levels of distress to counter condition the negative response to the fireworks. We did not find the CDs helpful as she was not bothered by the noise on a cd. Is your dog food motivated? Are they too stressed to take their no 1 fav treat during fireworks?
If so, try some things to get those stress levels down. We achieved this with a t-shirt from equafleece (she was scared of a thunder shirt but they calm a lot of dogs), skullcap and valerian tablets with extra valerian drops on fireworks days, pet remedy spray on bedding, dog calming music on and creating a safe den (covered comfy crate under a desk).
We began by encouraging her into her den when they started. We selected where to put it based on where she was naturally inclined to hide. She soon took to it as her go to place when frightened. At first even with all of the above she would not eat, but we persevered with the same protocol every time there were fireworks, which was sit calmly by crate and offer very high value treat with each bang.
Eventually after being totally consistent for a while, she started to eat for at least some of the time. By doing this over and over, bang now means treats and her reaction is much less severe. Previously she would go to pieces then not leave the house for weeks after fireworks. Now she sleeps in her crate feeling a bit miserable and happily goes out the next day. It was worth the effort.
I'm not actually against using meds to calm them enough to do behavioural work, but Xanax sent her loopy. Just dosing them up and ignoring I do not agree with though.
I had thought about doing what you suggest, with treating for each firework/bang, I think I will try and give this a go. He builds himself up into a massively stressed frame of mind so if I 'catch' him at the start or when he is beginning to come down then he will take a treat off me. During the absolute worst of it then he is completely shut down. He won't (can't?) listen to a single word I say.
I will get some valerian tablets and try those too. Hadn't ever heard of dog calming music before! I will have to see if I can find some!