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Question
Posted by: K9 | 2004/01/19

Thunder and fireworks

We have three dogs, two of them don't fear loud noises, the rottie watches firework displays with great attention. The sharpei finds it all rather tiresome and boring but the mongrel is very scared.
My opinion is that only organised displays done by trained pyrotecnicians should be allowed and that the SPCA and all "so-called" pet lovers should get off the case of going on about fireworks and the effect it has on their poor pets.
How could I change the mongrel's fear?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hi K9
This is a common problem because a dog's hearing is so much more acute than our is. (Personally I don't like bangs and high-pitched whistles either!) I think it is often the other things associated with the noises that add to the fear, like pressure change, being wet (thunder), gunpowder smell, people running about excitedly etc. The best thing to do is confine your dog to a safe and relatively sound-free area (like inside the house). If you know beforehand about the noise then get some tranquilizers from the vet or have some Rescue Remedy drops handy to give him about 20 minutes before it starts. You can give a dog the same dose as a human in a t-spoon or on a biscuit. When he starts to show signs of fear either ignore it (Don't try to comfort him) or try to cheer him up with a treat or a game. You can try to desensitize a dog to noises by playing a tape-recording of them at very low volume every day while he's eating. If he won't eat, the volume is too high. Gradually increase the volume over a few weeks and see if he gets used to it.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Puzzled | 2004/01/22

Ah, ok - now you're making more sense. Unfortunately I tend to agree that a complete ban on fireworks is pretty unlikely, and that persuading the purchasers to donate their money to the SPCA is probably even more remote.
What I do for my dog if I KNOW there will be fireworks is give him valerian, either in the form of a BECALM or a tincture (which is cheaper) of valerian - only trouble is you need to give it a while before the noise starts. It definitely helps him. But of course it's no good if the neighbourhood kids start setting off crackers unexpectedly... it's a real problem for me.
I've tried all the usual stuff to make him feel safe - it doesn't work. My other dogs aren't bothered about fireworks either... beats me why some are and some aren't.

Good luck, anyway...

Reply to Puzzled
Posted by: k9 | 2004/01/21

OK, OK, so I didn't make myself too clear. The local SPCA inspector wants a total ban on ALL fireworks which I think is totally unreasonable. Other contributors in the "letters to the press" avidly support him. They also suggest that the money used for the display should rather be given to the SPCA
My view is simply this: For centuries, firework displays herald in the new year and as a responsible pet owner, I have to ensure that my pets are comfortable when this happens. The same applies at the start of major events eg sporting events, inevitably some fireworks are let off.. You know that it's going to happen and you have to do something about it, be it drugs, sitting in a brightly lit room with the pet with the radio full blast, whatever.
So what I'm enquiring about is some training program I can use to get the dog used to noise.
Those people who think that they can get fireworks banned will have as much success as as those who work to ban smoking, gambling, liquor, prostitution etc etc etc.
Perhaps I should play down the firework angle and say: "My dog is very scared of thunder and lightning, how can I get it to accept it?"

Reply to k9
Posted by: S. | 2004/01/21

You are a rather odd one, aren't you? I'm afraid I have to agree with Puzzled.
Surely you should be encouraging the restriction on fireworks and not criticising those that are trying to do something about it? Animals are unnecessarily traumatised by the stupid people that insist on using fireworks outside of the law.
I had a dog that died of a heart attack as a result of a fireworks display and I feel very strongly about this - maybe you should join in the anti-fireworks lobby to help prevent incidences when you dog will be terrified by the ensuing noises and lights.

Reply to S.
Posted by: Puzzled | 2004/01/20

You sound like you're yanking someone's chain here. You want only organised displays, and you also want the SPCA and 'so-called' pet lovers to pipe down. This opinion makes no sense, I'm afraid, since this is how it's SUPPOSED to be, according to the law, and all the SPCA et al are doing is trying to enforce this.

To cure your dog, how about joining in the lobby to ban all but officially organised fireworks? I'd be really happy if you would, because my dog is also terrified of fireworks, and I don't enjoy watching him trembling and salivating in fear.

And as a matter of interest: where do these 'SO-CALLED' pet lovers you refer to fit into this picture?

Reply to Puzzled

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