Each year, tens of thousands of dog/cats are frightened by fireworks but there are lots of steps that can be taken to help alleviate some of their suffering as supplied by the peeps at Dogs Trust.
Like most animals, loud noises can adversely affect dogs and cats in particular as they have particularly sensitive hearing, but you can certainly do things to help your pets out.
Gun dogs, for example, are not born tolerant of loud noises but are trained and effectively de-sensitised to the sounds by use of the following tips:
Before the fireworks begin:
• Walk your dog before dark – it would appear to be a simple instruction but people tend to walk their dogs later in the evening when the fireworks may have already begun – get the walk in early to avoid distress
• Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as he may become unsettled
• Make sure your house and garden are secure as your pet may try to escape.
• Try to settle your dog in familiar surroundings before the fireworks begin
• Provide a safe hiding place – at noisy times around Bonfire Night, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table. Close the curtains, turn the lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises.
During the fireworks:
• Don’t punish your dog for cowering or reacting to the fireworks as this will intensify his fear. You should aim to remain relaxed and therefore provide a good role model to your dog when he is afraid. However, if your dog comes to you for comfort don’t ignore him – interact with him calmly.
• Don’t leave your dog alone in the house during the fireworks period – he may panic and this could result in an injury.
• Keep your dog busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep his mind off the noises. However, if he just wants to hide away then don’t force him to come out of his hiding place, allow him to stay where he feels safe.
Longer term treatment:
If you think that your dog gets worried by loud noises, contact your vet to see if there’s an underlying health problem first, and to help you find a qualified behaviourist. Your vet will also be able to discuss whether medication might be helpful.
Programmes of behaviour therapy recommended will vary for each dog, but may include the following elements:
• Establishing a consistent way for your dog to cope. This often involves teaching a dog to use a den to hide when he is worried. This might require you to gradually change your dog’s ‘coping’ response away from one that relies on your attention so that he’s more able to cope with loud noises if they occur when you’re not home.
• Gradually teaching your dog that noises are not scary through a process called ‘desensitisation and counter-conditioning’. This usually involves playing recorded versions of the scary noises but starting at such a low volume that your dog is not worried by them. The volume and direction of sounds are changed over time, but so slowly that your dog does not show any signs of fear. The sounds should also be associated with something that he enjoys, such as high value treats or a game.
Here at Jimmy’s, anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit us in the showroom will have met the beautiful Bruce. A German Shepherd dog who was our friend, protector and credit control for many years. It is therefore with great sadness that we announce that the old boy passed away peacefully in his sleep last weekend, surrounded by his toys and cuddled up in his blanket. He was to some just a pet but to us, he will be greatly missed.
As anyone who has had a pet they have lost will appreciate having had Bruce for over 12 years, he was almost a member of the family and staff. We all have our own memories of him we would like to share with you.
As anyone who has been in will personally attest to, on first entering the showroom, he was the first to announce anyone’s arrival with gusto!! He would stand guard at the end of the counter which looked to many too short to keep him in but for all the noise, what many would not appreciate is the difficulty he had experienced in getting up off the floor in the first place. He was bi-lingual and could hear a sandwich box open even in the deepest sleep. His day started with a cup of tea and whatever toast he could beg as well as his cod liver oil and glucosamine sulphate tablets (which he could always find and leave in the bowl irrespective of how well hidden they were!!). He watched over all of us and gave out loving snot rubs daily on Julie and whoever he could get close to. When in need of a cuddle, he would let you do whatever you wanted and could act like no other. He once stood in front of Julie shivering until she gave him her pink jumper which he accepted with grace until Paul said I was ruining his street rep!!
He knew when it was lunchtime as often Paul and Jimmy would be eating boiled eggs whilst he tucked into organic chicken and rice. He had his favourite treats with pig ears or smacko’s been his first choice. He would go to the drawer and tap it with his paw until he got his own way! He tolerated having antlers on at Christmas and even posed for photo’s when asked.
Bruce will be sorely missed and we would like to ask that anyone who has personal memories of our beautiful old boy to let us share them.
Goodbye old friend – we hope that you continue to watch over us xxxx
The latest idea from America to keep dogs calm in noisy environments has arrived – It’s called the Thundershirt. Originally developed for dogs that get disturbed when thunderstorms hit, has now found a new use as sales of the vest are escalating as we approach the fourth of July firework season. Three test “victims” Moses, Joker and Rowdy all tried the shirt all with some success.
Overall the results showed that the tight-fitting garment worked better when put on before the storm arrived to allow the dogs to get acclimatised. Dr Joe Landers, Cincinnati vet, who oversaw the tests, said the idea behind this vest is sound.
Melisa Lancaster’s dog Joker, used to wake her up whenever a crack of thunder shook the house wanting a cuddle, but since wearing the vest he seems a lot calmer when the vest was fitted before the storm arrived, working on the theory that he now feels swaddled and more secure.
Thundershirts are available online from $40 and available in different sizes.
Luckily here at Epic, we had a volunteer to test our own version of the garment, tests were inconclusive as he is so used to hearing the fireworks on our in-store plasma screens, he normally sleeps through them anyway, so not the best test subject on reflection.