Plan Ahead to Reduce Stress
One Event Can Trigger Behavioural Issues
A Silver Lining
By being prepared you can help your dog cope with these events so that your dog. have a better chance of being less stressed and if set to work months in advance you can often condition your dog to these sounds so that he is better able to cope. Of course, each dog is different so you need to tailor your training to them individually.
Preparing for an Event
The following is just an overview of how to help condition your dog to sounds. If your dog has a serious phobia I suggest that you call in the services of a qualified behaviourist to help you as working in the wrong way can make things worse. To help begin the conditioning process for your dog start by working to help your dog be less frightened by the sound of fireworks and thunder. You will need to start this many months in advance as it is a slow process. The most effective way to do this is to expose them gradually to the sound. Of course, I am not suggesting you use real fireworks for this exercise, but instead use audio recordings. You can download many sound effects from various sources on the internet and the Dogs Trust has some great sound effects and advice on their website https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets . It is important to start at very low volumes and increase the sound very slowly over time. During this process, it is important to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior, body language and actions. If at any time you feel your dog is starting to become anxious STOP the exercise. Remember this is conditioning, which means it will take time and patience to accomplish the desired results.
The desensitisation process should be done in for no more than about 5 minutes in any session. Play the noise softly in the background, whilst you play with your dog or give him treats – whatever you do it really has to be something he enjoys – something that will ‘rock his boat’ . Gradually, over time, increase the volume just a little at a time but only increase when your dog is calm and relaxed at the point you are working on.
Other Possible Remedies
There are several other “remedies” on the market such as Thundershirts, DAP Collars, and herbal medicines. Personally, I have found these options to be far less effective, if at all, when stressful situations, like dos and fireworks, may occur. If your dog is very nervous around these noises then I suggest you consult with your vet well in advance to determine if there is a medication that can help your dog.