Posted 13th October
Nearly half of the dogs in the UK will be scared when they hear a firework
Whilst dogs of any age, breed, gender or neutering status can be affected by noise phobias, herding breeds such as the Border Collie will tend to be more susceptible, as will young and elderly dogs. As an owner, you'll want to make sure your dog stays as calm as possible during firework season. To help, Eukanuba's Kellie Ceccarelli shares her tips on detecting noise phobia in your dog, what causes it and the steps to minimise disruption.
Does your dog suffer from noise phobia?
There are many signs that your dog could be scared of fireworks. This includes repeatedly hiding or attempting to hide or escape, circling, pacing, or acting restless. Other signs you should look out for are rolling onto their side or back, excessive grooming, freezing or stopping from moving, panting, yawning and excessive lip licking, drooling, being vocal or even refusing to eat.
What causes noise phobia?
No one is sure what causes the phobia - however, we do know dogs can inherit the condition, or that it could develop after a traumatic experience. A dog with a fearful temperament could be more 'sensitive' to noises. Therefore, if your dog has a true noise phobia, he or she is likely to have one or more relatives that also suffer from it, and any offspring will inherit it too.
How can you help?
1 Stick to your usual routine as much as possible
Take your dog for a walk before it gets dark and stick to mealtimes.
2 Avoid triggers
Dogs suffering with noise phobia should not be brought to firework displays in the hope that they'll get used to it. Doing so will most likely only intensify their fears.
3 Don't use punishment or shout if your dog reacts to fireworks
This will only make them more anxious, and they could even react aggressively towards you. Instead, try to comfort them with long, firm massage strokes.
Your vet could prescribe anxiolytic medication to aid treatment and minimise your dog’s suffering. The goal is to reduce the intensity of your dog’s fears. These medications should be used in combination with a behaviour modification plan outlined by your vet.
Playing CDs of firework sounds
In some cases, behaviour modification techniques such as desensitisation and counter conditioning to sounds from a CD will be recommended. Essentially, this is getting your dog used to the sound of fireworks from a CD at a volume that doesn’t provoke a full blown fearful or panic reaction and rewarding him for that. You gradually work your way through a programme until your dog perceives the sound of fireworks as being a good thing!
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