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Dogs and fireworks

(39 Posts)
JuneFromBethesda Sat 31-Oct-15 20:57:21

Our darling rescue lab has been with us for a week and it's going really well, it's like she's always been part of the family star

Tonight someone nearby is letting off fireworks and she's very anxious (we knew she would be, her previous owner mentioned this). When they started she literally leapt onto my lap. This is a 5-year-old lab so not a lapdog!

Obviously it's only going to get worse over the next week - our children's school is a five-minute walk away and they're having their annual fireworks do on Friday (we're not going). What can we do to help her get over her fear?

TheoriginalLEM Sat 31-Oct-15 21:05:24

my dog is terrified too. this year i have got him an adaptil collar. He is now sat by dp looking sorry for himself but not climbing the walls so a massive improvement.

Try not to reassure her too much as this will reinforced the behaviour.

Some people take their dogs outside as if they can see where the noise is coming from they wont be so worried by it.

JuneFromBethesda Sat 31-Oct-15 21:19:48

Thanks, I have been reassuring her a lot - I'll rein it in!

I thought about getting the Adaptil room diffuser, good to know it helps.

Pigleychez Sat 31-Oct-15 21:30:49

Ive heard good things about Adaptil too and agree about showing your not bothered by the noise either as they pick up on it.

Thankfully our 5mth Lab hasnt seemed fussed about any fireworks.

Arkkorox Sat 31-Oct-15 21:33:06

You CANNOT reinforce fear! Please reassure your dog as much as she needs.

foolonthehill Sat 31-Oct-15 21:37:00

We take our springer out for a walk or into the garden with us for the first few fire seems to help her to come in and settle down (not going to assign feelings to her or a thought process) If we just leave her in the house she gets a bit excited and agitated. As the days wear on and the bangs intensify and get more frequent she seems to accept it as normal.

I hear that thunder vests are good too

SixtyFootDoll Sat 31-Oct-15 21:37:13

My vet prescribed Calmex for my terrier.
She's had a dose this evening and is calm, but typically no fireworks so far tonight.
I'm going to give her a tablet each day until next Sunday to be on the safe sied

Themodernuriahheep Sat 31-Oct-15 21:43:32

Our jrt is terrified of sudden noises anyway, tonight is horrendous. He has squeezed himself under my pillow, between my head and the wall, and is shivering and hyperventilating with fear.

Kennel c,ub says put TV in music on to reduce firework noise. Does that work? I don't want yo put calming music on in case he begins to associate it with fireworks.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 31-Oct-15 21:52:05

Rather than make a fuss and reinforce the anxiety my dog trainer says you have to sing and dance round the room and make the whole thing an enjoyable experience. Never tried it myself but if the dog associates the fireworks with a positive experience rather than a negative or scary one, it's worth a try.

Cheerfulmarybrown Sat 31-Oct-15 22:00:02

Reassuring a dog does not reinforce the fear.

Fear is an emotion. Emotions are involuntary responses.

Reinforcement refers to an increase in behavior. Behaviors are voluntary responses. Fear is something you feel. Behavior is something you do.

Dogs, are not actors. They do not fake being afraid in order to get paid (attention, treats, invitation on the bed). If they are exhibiting the behaviors associated with fear, they are feeling afraid and it is fine to comfort them.

There is a major campaign to prevent dogs being prescribed ACP for fear and it is used for fear of fireworks so if you do go down the medication route do research first.

Thundershirts are a good for some dogs and worth a try, close all the curtains loud tv and give the dog a place to hide eg covered crate. Work on desensitisation for next year

TheoriginalLEM Sat 31-Oct-15 22:18:22

Cheerful - that isn't really what i meant, but i can see why it came across that way. I meant that it sort of makes the dog think, oooh, well mum is being all sympathy etc so these bangs must be a real problem, if that makes sense. Rather than just trying to carry on as normal with distractions etc.

Totally agree that ACP is not a good thing for fireworks, apparently they dull the dogs reactions so they appear less scared but they just aren't able to express their fear.

I have to say that i am so impressed with the adaptil collar - this has been the first night of fireworks and ddog, whilst not happy, is fairly chilled and all the while he can sit with one of us he is calm.

pigsDOfly Sat 31-Oct-15 22:30:58

The reinforcing thing makes sense Cheerful. Hadn't thought about it much really, but if my dog is nervous of something when we're out she'll look up at me and I'll just repeat that she'll be okay - obviously I realise it's my tone of voice rather than what I'm saying - and she seems to accept that I know what I'm talking about and trust I'm right. She will then watch me until we're past the perceived threat and then I treat her.

We've successfully learned to tolerate quite a lot of things that way, although we're still working on her fear of cats, so clearly reassuring her hasn't made her more fearful.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sat 31-Oct-15 22:32:14

I know what you meant LEM. Fussing and reassuring a scared dog is almost like rewarding the behaviour. It is not the cause of the fear but it is the cause of the reaction that the dog has learnt to present. Dogs are not actors but they do learn which behaviour works for them and gets the most favourable reward. They will attempt to perform whatever behaviour gets them a reward. Yes they might be frightened of the fireworks but you have to carry on as normal to show them that there is nothing to be frightened of.

pigsDOfly Sat 31-Oct-15 22:42:29

Yes, brisk no nonsense reassurance is probably the way to go.

But I suspect if you've got a dog that's completely bound up in it's terror of the unknown explosions outside all the reassurance in the world is not going to make a great deal of difference.

GinBunny Sat 31-Oct-15 23:05:36

GinDog has an Adaptil collar but it's made no difference whatsoever. He's not nervous though, he barks and goes generally bonkers. We ended up taking him to "grandad's" house tonight to get away from all the noise. As soon as one lot finished the next lot started. And continue to do so 5 hours later.
I've always loved fireworks but since getting him I bloody hate them angry

GinBunny Sat 31-Oct-15 23:07:25

Meant to add that even the vet doesn't know what we can do, they only know what to do with nervous dogs. GinDog wants to take them on and fight them all. And he's a very gentle natured dog the rest of the time.

tabulahrasa Sun 01-Nov-15 00:43:09

IME dogs hearing fireworks for the first time and going, should I be worried about that? respond best to you just ignoring it and carrying on doing what you're doing.

But a dog that's already scared, that's different entirely and you might as well reassure them if it makes them feel better, because you're not going to get over an established fear by just ignoring it, so you might as well do anything that might help.

Cheerfulmarybrown Sun 01-Nov-15 08:42:41

Absolutely tabulahrasa. Once the dog is fearful you jumping around singing or being "all this is fine" in a chirpy school mistress voice will make no difference what so ever. Only to make your dog think you are mad and why do you behave like a loom in scary situations smile. He will still be fearful.

I have a new pup and this is his first fireworks, (he has been conditioned to fireworks via a CD since he was days old so has no reaction at all) there were fireworks going off yesterday we were outside playing tuggy, he has no fear and at the moment is seeing fireworks as a time to have a great game.

I have a foster who is terrified he was shaking and drooling but when allowed to lie on my daughters lap with his head under her arm he was calm enough to go to sleep. No rewarding the fear just comforting.

MrsAdora you will not be encouraging fearful reaction by rewarding the dog when they are terrified I promise as mentioned above fear is an emotion dogs will not fake an emotion.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 01-Nov-15 08:50:06

One of my dogs is scared rigid of fireworks and nothing I can say or do comforts him. He goes to his 'safe' spot, and there he shakes until half an hour after the last firework.

I have found that closing the curtains so he can't see any, and having TV and radio on and at a high volume to disguise some of the noise, really helps.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 01-Nov-15 13:59:05

I'm sure you're right Cheerful but I'm going on the advice of my dog trainer, who herself is a KC trainer of other trainers and judges and she's been right about most things so far. It's trial and error though, you have to find what works for you and your dog.

Shriek Sun 01-Nov-15 14:10:01

i would agree not to get on the side of ddog when , i.e. fuelling the fear (as if its the 'right' response). DDogs (not all of course) will look to us for the appropriate reaction. If this is in a ddog with a host of other fear/worry issues, then there's more going on to deal with, but if its just this, i completely agree with 'breaking' the conditioned response. Quite rightly inside hearing such louds bangs/whooses/whizzes can cause many reactions.

Have you tried walking your ddog out with another who doesn't give a damn? Have you become anxious around fireworks at all as a result? would you feel worried about taking your ddog out around them, and yes if all else fails, give them somewhere pretty sound proofed, if they have a crate put it in the cupboard understairs or quietest place you can find cover with blankets to muffle noise and play radio/telly /music bit louder than usual, give disstracting toys or play games with them that they are interested in, eventually they will fade out their intense 'listening out' for the bangs and not be so 'on alert' for them.

Shriek Sun 01-Nov-15 14:12:42

i took my ddogs out to a gun event within local community and i received abusive comments from others about my 'being cruel' the ddogs couldn't give a damn and me neither! So be prepared for comments.

If those same guns were used in close quarters in a shoot noone would turn a hair that ddogs were there.

Cheerfulmarybrown Sun 01-Nov-15 16:37:58

Absolutely Mrs Adora but some trainers are stuck in the past. I got told off by your for quoting my qualifications so won't do it again smile.

However all dogs learn and feel emotions the same way and chivying a dog that is frightened will be a waste of time.

We could use the OP as an experiment. If she does jump around singing being all cheerful I promise her dog will still be shaking from fear from the fireworks - point made.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Sun 01-Nov-15 17:35:58

I'll have to show this thread to my trainer. After rescuing and rehabilitating several 'problem' dogs over the years she'll be quite amused.

HenDogismylife Sun 01-Nov-15 18:02:06

You can reinforce the fearful reaction not the fear itself, and you can make the dog think that what it is scared of is scary if you react too much. So if you jump up each time a firework goes off the dog would think you are scared too. Same as rewarding fear, if you reward during the reaction it's different to rewarding the calm after. My dog only responds to fireworks because next doors dog barks. So I reward him for not reacting.

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