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I recently encountered a problem with my 1-year-old Irish, Finn.
Basically while walking him along a seafront, a large number of very loud fireworks were let off directly next to us. Finn wet himself, tried to scrabble away, screamed, yelped and barked and wouldn't calm down for ages after. Rather irritating that there were absolutely no signposts or messages or anything stating this display would take place so we had no way to know it was going to happen. Consequently, he is now a shivering, collapsing wreck at the sound of guns, fireworks, motorbikes and pretty much any other loud bang or noise.
So I wondered if anyone could recommend a good desensitisation CD that covers things like traffic noise as well as fireworks? Don't want to go buy one that won't help or has bad sound quality or whatever. Obviously some of your suggestions may not be available for our budget as we are in the UK and can't afford to pay a lot for postage/shipping etc.
We took him out today to a pet shop thinking he'd be fine but the people working there were banging food containers and he collapsed to the floor trembling and would not move without extreme coaxing. In this state he is not at all interested in anything, including food, so there is no way to bribe him and only pulling him almost to the point of dragging him will move him. Obviously this will not help him in the long run so we've changed tactics and want to include the CD in our plans.
Thanks for any suggestions. Also any other training tips or advice for tackling this problem would be much appreciated :)
I am sorry that Finn has got so distressed.My oldest Setter ,Ellie,is terrified of fireworks and thunder but ok with other loud noises.She can even differentiate between a gun shot and a banger! However we have tried all sorts of things over eight years and nothing has worked until my vet suggested a very small dose of diazepam(Vallium) .It works extremely well but is used rarely.
Hi Charlotte...whatever you do do not try to give Finn treats or try to reassure him when he is exhibiting fear. You don't want to reinforce his fearful behaviour. Far better to let him see that you are calm and confident in any situations he finds scary.
I have a CD called Crash,Bang,Wallop! by Dodayz which has 50 different sound effects on it. It's quite good. You are welcome to borrow it if you want. I can soon pop it in the post.
It can take several weeks to see the slightest improvement in a dog who has had a severe fright.
The CD has to be played on the lowest volume setting to start with and only increased over time as the dog shows no fear response to the sounds played at the previous sound level (if you get what I mean :)).
You could ask your vet for a very low dose sedative for him just enough to calm him for a while until he can overcome his fears. There are also many homeopathic remedies you could try too.
Don't push Finn beyond his comfort zone as you might make matters worse. Slow and steady does it.
Cornelia....the dog has had a terrible fright, which is why he is fearful.
I don't think having his thyoid tested will make much difference in this case.
Charlotte, what a nightmare, and this is just one of the things which annoys me soooooo much about people who like fireworks. They let them off without warning and without a care in the world. They really ought to be more restrictions on these things, so that people who enjoy them can enjoy them without causing distress to others, and animals,
There are a couple of things you can do. Sounds Scary have CD's you can use, but they must be used in a controlled way. Please don't just put them on and hope for the best. They have to be played very softly first of all, and preferably as Finn is eating. Play them at the level where he doesn't react, and then gradually over a period of time start to increase the volume, but of course, we are not far off the season where these things are going to be let off willy nilly now, which could potentially undo everything you are trying to do. I feel so sorry for you, because this is not a good time to start trying to desensitize a terrified dog :-(
I would also look into purchasing a thunder shirt on line. There are various website which sell them. I think www.xtradog.co.uk have them, as they stock quite a few TTouch products. The other thing is for you to find a basic TTouch course and get yourself on one as soon as you can, so that you can use some of these skills for helping to calm Finn. I personally would go down this route at this time of year, and then go for the desensitization after the noise season has finished.
If he goes into a real state during the firework season. and you have to take him to the vets, please don't accept ACP as a drug.Some vets still prescribe this, but I will tell you what it does.... it paralyses the dog.... it can still hear them, but cannot react. To me that is pure mental torture :-(
If you need further help, it might be an idea for you to contact my friend Marie Miller, who is a TTouch practitioner this is her website. She wouldn't mind you contacting her, and maybe able to suggest someone more local to you.
Thank your for your suggestions everyone. This really is such an upsetting and distressing time for us, seeing our poor little baby in such a state and knowing that we are the ones exposing him to the things he is scared of - if only for his own good! As I said, after seeing him so bad yesterday, we are going to slow down and start from the very basics.
Fran - I really like the look of the Thundershirt. I had heard of them before but had forgotten that they existed! Lots of great reviews and I feel that anything is worth a try at this stage. Thanks for the info on TTouch also, I will definitely be having a deeper look at that.
Torie - Thanks so much for the advice, and if we could borrow the CD that would be absolutely fantastic! We don't have much of a budget at the moment and we're having to buy him a new harness and possibly now a Thundershirt (!) so to be able to try out a CD and see if it works without having to fork out on one would be great :)
Sent you a email Charlotte
I am sooo sorry poor Finn has had such a fright (I hate fireworks myself) as you know I like natural remedies Have you thought of Dr Bachs flower remedies (yes they do work) not overnight but with constant use they have an amazing effect and not to expensive and last for ages..Rock Rose is for Terror and Panic...Star of Bethelhem is for Shock....or good old Rescue Remedy which you can buy in Tescos and has all of these...I used to use Rescue Remedy on my old girl who was terrifed of fireworks...you can just add to their drinking water..I even take them myself....they can also be used along side playing CD's ...Fran has also got me into learning Ttouch and it is very calming....I wish you were nearer to me as I am a Reiki Therapist and I would love to have tryed to help him...I know you are a student and money is tight but look in your area for Reiki Therapist who are training or just qualified as most will give free healing...you will be surprised who will give for free.....and it is an amazing treatment...
Love to you all
Rescue Remedy, calmness and a lot of small, gentle circular motion massages to the dogs ears, legs and along the spine will give the same effect and cost you nothing. I have been doing it for years :))
Thanks again everyone.
As I said, I am definitely going to get a Thundershirt - it'll either help or not do anything at all so not much to lose other than the money! Following your suggestions I'll also buy some Rescue Remedy next time I'm out and see some and see if that shows any improvement.
Took him to the bus stop today which is a little hut (he seems to like being inside things when he's scared) to sit and watch/listen to the traffic going by and general life noises, but as with EVERYTHING we do with Finn, worst luck ever, they started strimming the grass right outside of it while we were inside so what started with him being just a little cautious ended with him being a quivering lump on the floor again :( as that was obviously still too much for him, we're going to just walk him to the very top of our road where it starts to get busy but not go far enough that he gets too worked up.
Ellie,as you may recall ,is terrified of fireworks.This fear has now gone a stage further.
When the fireworks started it was dark,she now equates the approach of evening with fireworks so as it gets dark she gets frightened.This is a new developement,(it has taken her nine years to reach this correct conclusion!) but, with talking to her gently and calming her, the fear as it gets dark is now lessening.
I just wondered if anyone else's dog had learnt to equate darkness with fireworks?
Yes Abbie tries to dig a hole in the wall, shakes and there is no chance of calming her down. Abbie will not go out after dark from the first firework until about Febuary, it takes this long for her to trust that there will be no more.Such a shame as this is,this year she was a lot better only because her brain seams to forget about it and many other things ( I would rather have my old Abbie back and live with her fear)