Is your pet scared of fireworks? Are they scared of the dark? Do you know? Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry – so, if you are in a fireworks area, start preparing now – and don't forget that New Year also brings fireworks.....
If you know your dog is afraid - it can take a couple of months to work through a desensitisation and counter-conditioning program (what's this?). Starting early can really give you the time to turn your pet around. Product like Adaptil (DAP) and Desensitisation CD's can help if you want to work on your own. It can also help tremendously to get help from a qualified behaviourist who will be able to create a programme which will also work on several additional aspects to help to improve your dog's confidence and decrease their fear. You can also get a greater understanding of your dog's fireworks fear in this new Fireworks Fear booklet.
Is it too late? It’s never too late to implement at least some of the help in this note, but it's best to do the desensitisation programme when it's not dark in the evenings and there are no fireworks and bangs around. If there are only a few days to go to the fireworks events, then it would be best to visit your vet for help to calm your dog. And, there are also some new calming aids that can act very quickly - have a look at the Thundershirt - a specially designed coat that exerts constant gentle pressure on your dogs body; or the Pet Remedy Diffuser - a natural way to help your dog to be calm.
And, prevention for puppies - early exposure to lots of different sights, experiences, and sounds can really help prevent your puppy developing a fear of noises or fireworks - the CLIX, Noise desensitisation CD can be a great help towards that.
THE 7 Do’s on helping your dog cope with fireworks
Desensitisation - Many pets are successfully helped by using desensitisation CD’s. These simulate the random and unpredictable nature of the firework noise. Start several weeks prior to the event, gradually building up the volume and playing time.
Distraction – To help increase the effect of the desensitisation, take the opportunity to distract your pet, whilst playing the CD. Either play with them or do some training, or give them a favourite toy or chew.
Dog Appeasing Pheromone - Adaptil
If you already know that your pet is scared, then try an Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) which release calming pheromones. Plug it in where the pet spends most time for about 2 weeks before you start the desensitisation work, and then keep it going. Read about other calming aids here - herbals, dietary supplements etc
Don’t Delay - The more you do the better here - and some pets do need more help than described above. Behaviour Therapy and training can help tremendously - especially if your pet is now scared of the dark too. Working with the problem holistically can really help, pulling together many aspects of the dogs life to build overall confidence and reduce factors which can cause internal or external distress. Any questions? Please call Pawsability, or find a behaviour therapist near you.
Desensitisation - this is where your dog is carefully exposed to the fireworks noises at gradually increasing volume until such times as they do not re-act.
Counter conditioning happens after the desensitisation process and teaches the dog that the sounds actually mean good-things.
Why start in the summer? The whole process will work far more effectively if the desensitisation and counter-conditioning processes occurs when there is no likelyhood of the dog being exposed to these noises or other aspects of their fear, such as dark nights.
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