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Old 06-20-2012, 11:29 AM
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Default Fireworks and thunderstorms...

It's that season. And last year in early June, we had an incident where we were in an airplane hangar, during a local fair, and the firework display started up directly behind and over the building. I had no idea it was going to happen. It freaked Fleetwood out, I ran him back to the car, but the damage had been done. I knew that it would screw him up.

He didn't seem terribly afraid of fireworks after that, and he wasn't scared of thunderstorms at all. He has been afraid of snappy things, like staple guns or cap guns all along.

This season, as soon as we started hearing firecrackers in the distance, I would pull out his ball and play. He's extremely motivated by his ball, so that works to distract him. He still wants to jump in the car or somewhere 'safe'. He's starting to get more and more anxious at every firework or firecracker display we hear in the distance, though, and is starting to pant, pace, and hide. I haven't had him close to any displays, he can only hear them in the distance.

The day before yesterday, it thunderstormed, and the thunder was freaking him out-- which has never happened before. Now I'm seriously concerned.

I give advice all the time to people as far as managing a phobic dog, that's nothing new, but I want our best shot at desensitizing at this point. I want to try to turn this around. Since I've already tried to teach him "boom=ball", and he's still getting worse, I need another tactic. I know there's DVDs out there that I can get, to help desensitize him to these sounds, but I seriously want Chaz advice. He is NOT a nervy dog, and it kills me to see him like that!
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:48 PM
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I fully support anti-anxiety medication for noise phobia. And I support not waiting for it to get worse before treating. NOT NOT NOT Acepromazine, which is a sedative but not an anti-anxiety medication. Unfortunately, some vets still turn to that. It scrambles perceptions, can increase noise sensitivity, and is just such a bad choice for a phobia. You want something like Xanax which works directly to decrease anxiety without being sedating. Great in combination with counter-conditioning.

Thundershirts work well for some dogs, but not for others, so may be worth considering.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:54 PM
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...and metal gates shutting and helium balloons and...there aren't alot of things Sophie isn't afraid of. Some people swear by Natures Remedy, they make one for dogs. Thunder shirts work for some. We just have a dark windowless spare bathroom that all the animals seem tubo gravitate to as a storm shelter. We throw down some old towels at the first sign of rain and dog curls on floor and cats perch on sink and bath tub...whatever works
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:11 PM
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Same boat here, so I'll try to give you as much info as I can .

#1, don't waste your money on the Thundershirt, this is our results with it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbQpQOo9TfY

#2, you can try Rescue remedy if you find it, but we didn't really experience any change.

#3, we had good results during hunting season with this, I put it in a sealed container when it wasn't being used and it still smells months later: http://www.amazon.com/Sentry-Behavio...ollar+for+dogs

#4, If you can find "melatonin" in the supplements section of most stores, give it a try, it seems to settle Enda down quite a bit, at least just enough to allow her to settle with a food toy. You can read more on that here: http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/iss...gs_5095-1.html

That's where we are so far, she still gets overly worked up over fireworks, and the neighbors new assault rifle *gag*, and for the most part I've just gotten to ignoring her and leaving her be, if she wont take a toy or settle she's ignored, to which she usually just slinks off to the bathroom to hide. Please do share if you find anything that works, I'd like to know! I'll keep sharing things as I come across them too.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:37 AM
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Thanks for all of the responses. These are, for the most part, things that I often times recommend to manage phobic dogs. I'm more interested in attempting to reverse or stop it from getting worse this season. I have used Rescue remedy with a lot of fosters, but haven't tried with Fleetwood for anything yet. I was looking for it the other day, but couldn't find it-- I'm going to find it before the next storm, wih any luck.

Has anybody tried, or can you recommend, a DVD made for desensitizing dogs to these sounds? I'd love to give that a try! One of the dogs I work with has a very intense thunder-phobia, and his owner uses melatonin, but it doesn't seem to help all that much. I may give that a try, just for the heck of it. The thunder shirt seems to help a little, with a lot of dogs that I've gotten feedback about. The most common response I get about it is "it stopped his shaking," or "He stopped panting". So... Maybe eventually, that might be an option.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:46 AM
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Thanks for all the advice posted.

Jackson got a little freaked out the other day at my dads house, because he HATES any kind of gun-shot sounding noise (including fireworks) and the neighbors four wheeler kept popping and making a gun-like noise. THEN our other stupid neighbor came over to our pool to hang with my brother and kept smacking a huge boogey board on the water which also sounded like gun shots. Then someone was shooting those air soft guns, which aren't loud, but he still associates it with gun sound.

I felt sooo bad for him, as it's rare that he's TRULY afraid. He's so great in public, and up for anything, but a gun shot, etc, just throws him over the edge. And the thing with him is... he just want so run away from it as far as possible which worries me. I hate the fact that he runs AWAY from me when he's fearful. The other day I just left him outside even tho he was sitting at the door wanting to go inside, and eventually he decided to come back out and he got over it, but it was the longest fear period I had ever seen him in. He wouldn't even come out in the yard for chicken (and food is usually my go-to when he's scared, because he LOVES food so much). Thunder only bothers him when it's LOUD booms. And typically during storms he just will go under the bed slowly, and feels more comfortable under there until it's over, which I don't mind.

But I've been looking for some remedies as well. I'm not sure I want to resort to giving him xanax... I'm not sure if it's that bad, and it happens to rarely, but I guess it'd be nice to have something on hand in situations like that. Just to relax him a notch. He has 3 major quirks - gunshots/fireworks, smoke (ever since my mom set off our oven & smoke alarm, the smell of smoke, he just slinks away slowly) and fly swatting (which I just avoid).

So, no real advice, just wanted to say I understand and hugs to you and Fleetwood.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:01 AM
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Sounds like you're in the same boat I am, JacksonsMom! Sounds just like Fleetwood. Fleetwood is sort of embarrassed it seems, whenever he gets scared-- it seems like he tries to act nonchalant LOL! He hasn't tried to run away, but that is a big fear of mine. We d. A lot of off leash stuff, I'm really afraid one of these days he'll get really spooked. As of now, he just hops in the car, like "Okay guys! I'm not afraid or anything, I'm just ready to go home now!" or if the car isn't around, he'll go sit on the porch or something.

Good luck to you and Jackson, too!
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazwell View Post
Sounds like you're in the same boat I am, JacksonsMom! Sounds just like Fleetwood. Fleetwood is sort of embarrassed it seems, whenever he gets scared-- it seems like he tries to act nonchalant LOL! He hasn't tried to run away, but that is a big fear of mine. We d. A lot of off leash stuff, I'm really afraid one of these days he'll get really spooked. As of now, he just hops in the car, like "Okay guys! I'm not afraid or anything, I'm just ready to go home now!" or if the car isn't around, he'll go sit on the porch or something.

Good luck to you and Jackson, too!

Yup, sounds just like him! He doesn't like immediately start shaking and want to be in my lap, or anything that makes it blatantly obvious that he's really scared. He more just walks away from the situation and wants to hide and get as far away as possible from whatever he's afraid of.
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:33 AM
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All my past dogs were scared in some way of thunder and/or fireworks. I've always wondered what made a dog afraid of them, or in the case of King and Molly, totally unafraid of them. Most all my dogs were bought/adopted between 8 and 12 weeks of age, and it was already established when I got them. My Pit mix Gus was the worst of all of them, a basket case from late April to late July whenever the local kids started shooting off fireworks, a daily ocurrance in my area. And when it rained, thunder or no thunder, he was a total mess, chattering/grinding teeth, heart pounding at about 140 beats a minute, etc. A car wash was a trip into hell for him. The day after I got him I took him and my other two older dogs to the car wash, not even dreaming how badly he would react. When we got King and Molly, the neighbors had wind damage to their roof, and they decided to just replace the roof, and the sound of the nail guns didn't even make them blink, let alone go to pieces. Same went for storms. There was a close strike about a week after we got them, and they both ran to the window to look and just watched the storm. When I took them to the car wash the first time, King sat on the passenger seat and watched the show, and Molly just slept. Gus would have been trying to somehow climb into me to get away from the nail guns, let alone the storm. I gave Gus calming meds occasionally, but to really keep him calm, I would have had to dose him most of the time from about Feb until later Oct!

I think there is a genetics component to this, but there must be something that happens at a very young age to influence their developing a severe fear. As King and Molly approach the end of their days, I'm dreading going through the hassles that I totally avoided with them that all my other dogs had, like the fear of loud noises, housebreaking issues like Gus had, destructive chewing like Gus had, etc.
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tazwell View Post
Has anybody tried, or can you recommend, a DVD made for desensitizing dogs to these sounds? I'd love to give that a try!
Not a CD or DVD, but I downloaded "sound effects" from a free site, just Google it and you can give it a try (I searched for "midi's", and converted them to MP3's in ITunes), I downloaded about 12 different forms of gun shot and bombs, if you have something like ITunes you can loop them and even "shuffle" them. Unfortunately it didn't work for us at all. We have a surround sound system for movies, and play them loud often, for whatever reason she has NO 0, zip, nada, reactions to "digitally" created audio! It has to be the "real deal" or it's no big deal. What I ended up doing was I bought a cap gun (which is hard because they're illegal to sell in NY state, good thing I live close to the PA border, thank you K-mart). There are a few good videos on Youtube of how to use a Cap gun in a desensitization program.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratboy View Post
I think there is a genetics component to this, but there must be something that happens at a very young age to influence their developing a severe fear.
FleetWoods behavior sound identical to Enda's, which is a lot like other showline Beaucerons. So yes, I believe fully there is a strong genetic component.

However, you are right, there is a lot of influence that goes on during puppyhood which ultimately makes or breaks them. In End's case, she was traumatized at the end of her 8th month fear period by a fireworks party. If you can shelter them during their 3 most crucial fear periods (9-10 weeks, 7-9 months, 10-13 months, for Beaucerons), and manage to introduce them to these things in a SLOW calm manner in a familiar environment, they usually end up okay or not as bad off, problem is that these types of things just always seem to catch us off guard at the worst possible time.
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