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Doggy Fears

Many dogs have fears it’s how we deal with those fears that’s important. A common phobia observed in dogs, as many owners know, is the fear of fireworks. To many dogs, and their owners, this is the worst time of the year.

Depending on the level of your dog’s fear, there are numerous methods of approaching their phobia. If your dog displays a mild worried state rather than a completely panic stricken one then your best bet is to act as calm as you can and take your dog’s mind off the noise, turn the TV up, put some music on and basically let your dog do whatever he/she feels is best. If they decide that diving underneath the bed’s the very best option for the duration, then so be it, the less fuss you make of the situation the easier it’ll be for your pooch.

Now if you go to the other end of the scale and your dog’s showing a high level of fear, trembling, pacing, head and body held low and generally not settled at  all you could consider trying a sound therapy CD. If you’re going to follow this route then begin the ‘training’ a few months prior to the fireworks starting. The CD’s work by desensitisation, your dog will gradually learn to accept the noise and not notice it anymore. Then counter conditioning your dog follows this up, this is the process of your dog hearing the noise and instead of being frightened by it they’ll be excited by it. Your dog will recognize the noise as a trigger to something nice and happy happening.

The CD’s also contain a variety of other common doggy phobia sounds such as, thunder, gunshots, rain and hail.

One of the main tricks of combating your dog’s fear is for you to act as normally as possible. When the fireworks start, do nothing, the very worst thing you can do is to make a fuss of your scared dog. If you fuss them you’re only reassuring them that they’re correct to panic. If you’re out walking and thunder begins simply try to maintain your normal sounding voice and call your dog to you, remain calm and collected, pop your dog’s lead on and head back home. Staying out in a storm is not a good idea even if your dog shows no signs of fear, it’s not particularly safe for either of you.

If you panic in a situation, your canine chum will follow your lead and panic. Your dog looks to you as their leader, you’re in charge, so if the leader thinks it’s wise to be scared and panic then so will the rest of the ‘pack.’ It really does work if you stay calm, my Border collie is petrified of thunder and the last time we were out and a storm began, I simply whistled calmly for him to return to me, clipped his lead on and headed on home as quickly as possible without displaying any panic to him at all.

It’s not easy to conceal genuine fear but next time you feel like showing that you’re scared just think about your dog and how your actions will make him/her feel.

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