Sarah Endersby Veterinary Behaviourist Discusses General Advice for Understanding Why Dogs Get Fear of Loud Noises and What You Can Do to Help Them.

Preparing for Halloween

Do you know how common pet noise fears and sensitivities are? Well, at least 80% of pets are scared of fireworks!! 

 

The most common noises that dogs have sensitivities to are: thunderstorms, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, gunshots and construction noises.

 

When a dog reacts fearfully to a noise, for example when a car back fires, it may never have heard it before, or not be able to localise where the noise came from and thus shows fearful behaviour. However, normally a dog can recognise noises with actions, such as doors slamming and people clapping, and understand what each is and then accept these as part of everyday life.

 

Do you know what a noise sensitivity is? It is when a dog generalises all loud noises, such as people clapping, doors banging, firework bangs, and TV sounds, as fearful and thus responds in an extreme physical or irrational way. If your dog(s) reacts like this you need to seek professional help from a vet or qualified behaviourist. Long-term behaviour modification plans can be introduced to help support your dog to become less sensitive to noises.

  • Stay in as much as possible with your dogs during the  Halloween season. Acting normally and trying to maintain their routine will help to limit any stress they feel, and help them to settle quicker. Additionally by having the TV or radio on they can help to drown out the loud bangs from outside.

 

  •  Plug in an Adaptil diffuser into the room where your dog's bed or den area will be, ideally 2 weeks before any fireworks event. Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the dog appeasing pheromone to help increase your dog's sense of security and comfort. By plugging in 2 weeks before any fireworks it aids your dog in becoming calm and remaining calm once the fireworks do start.

 

  • If you intend to be out and about on Halloween night, i.e. visiting friends & family, and taking your dog with you, the Adaptil collar and spray are ideal for on the go support.

 

  • Always ensure that you walk your dog early in the evening before it gets too dark and before the fireworks start. If you are out with your dog and a loud bang does off they could bolt.

How do I recognise the symptoms of a noise sensitive dog? Signs and symptoms a dog may exhibit, which can range from mild to extreme, may include: hiding, chewing, urinating or soiling indoors, pacing, digging, trying to escape, drooling/licking of lips, seeking out the owner, barking and trembling. If you spot any of these signs in your dog in the run up to, during or even after any firework event please speak to your vet as soon as possible.

 

What can you do to support your dog during  Halloween? 

 

  • Provide a safe place for your dog to go to during Halloween night. This can be a den, or just a warm and comfortable bed. The idea is that it is a safe haven for the dog, you can include toys and treats to keep them distracted, additional blankets and towels to put over any crates or carriers to help block out the sounds and flashes of the fireworks. Most importantly make sure it is an area that is easily accessible for the dog to get to, that they don't feel punished for using it and that they see it as a safe place to retreat to.

 

  • Try and keep your dog inside during fireworks, securing doors and windows. To help minimise the noises and flashes from outside close any curtains or blinds and have the TV/radio on. Important things to remember for dogs during Halloween season

 

  • Make sure your dog is micro-chipped, if they do bolt and manage to escape having your dog micro-chipped will enable a quicker and easier process of reuniting you with your dog. REMEMBER, to check that your address/contact details are up to date on the chip!

 

  • Provide interactive toys or tasty treats for your dog. If your dog chooses to interact with the family during fireworks, make it fun and provide interactive toys to distract them, and tasty treats to help entice and reward them for using their den.

 

  • Try and ignore fearful behaviour, dogs in particular may pick up on their owners' anxiety making the problem worse. The best thing to do is to leave your dog to cope independently. Only step in if they are causing harm to themselves or others.

 

  •  To help drown out the noise of the fireworks shut doors and put the TV or radio on. Close curtains and blinds also to minimise the flashes from the fireworks!

 

  • Don’t take your dog with you to a fireworks display or tie your dog up outside, leave them in the garden or in your car while you watch any fireworks. It is important to keep dogs in an indoor safe area where they can escape the loud bangs and flashes. If you have to go out and leave your dog behind, do NOT punish your dog for any mess or distress you find on your return. We always advise you stay with your dog during fireworks to ensure they do not harm themselves if they do start to panic.

 

  • An indoor crate can be very useful, not only as a tool to build a den during  Halloween season, but as acting as a regular retreat/sleeping area for the rest of the year. To encourage your dog to become comfortable using the crate using their favourite blanket, add some toys and even tasty treats. For extra added comfort try using the Adaptil Spray. Remember, the crate is t be a safe area not a use of punishment, don't leave your dog in their for long periods and always make it a positive experience.

 

Ever wondered if your dog has a fear of fireworks, and if so to what extent? Why not visit the website at www.adaptil.co.uk where you can fill in a simple questionnaire, devised by Jon Bowen, Veterinary Behaviourist, to find out. It will not only tell you what level of fear your dog has but also advise on what can be done to support your dog. Visit today and find out how you can support your dog this fireworks season. 

 

Remember, remember fireworks aren't just at Halloween! When planning how to support your dog this year think long-term support. After Halloween night there are several other celebrations such as Christmas, New Year…..several more nights when fireworks are going off. Contact Grey Abbey on 045 522 390 to see how we  can support your dog this fireworks season.

Sarah Endersby Veterinary Behaviourist Discusses How to Best Build a Den For Use on Halloween

 

Click on link to download Firework Quick Glance Guide

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