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Firework Phobias

How to deal with the problem
Firework night celebrations seem to begin earlier and earlier every year. Many pet owners dread the start of this season and preparation is all-important if dogs are to get through it with the minimum of fear and stress.

A Few Practicial Tips
Install a DAP diffuser in the home - operating 24 hours a day from two weeks before the season starts and 2 weeks after events finish. DAP makes dogs feel more relaxed and confident when they might otherwise be stressed.

A Suitable Place to Hide - When the season begins, try and ensure your dog is already in their favourite room. All you need to do is to modify this room 2 weeks before to make it more suitable as a hideout. Put down lots of blankets for them to burrow in, and include an old unwashed piece of your clothing as the dog will feel comforted by your indirect presence. If possible the room should have minimal windows and blacking out the room removes the potentially additional problems of flashing lights and flares etc.

Distractions - Provide plenty of familiar toys, special chews and games that might help distract the pet. Try to provide background sounds from the radio or television. Moderately loud rhythmic music with a good beat is an effective way to mask the firework noises from outside, keep the volume at a loud but comfortable level.

Feeding - Bowls of water are essential, and it is a good idea to make sure that your dog has emptied his bladder an hour before the display starts. Feed your dog a good meal, rich in complex carbohydrates with added vitamin B6 a few hours prior. The Burns Food meets these requirements with additional cooked porridge or overcooked rice. This will help make you dog feel calm and sleepy as the night draws in.

Your Behaviour - Do not punish your dog when he is scared, it only reinforces something to be afraid of and will make him worse. Don’t fuss, pet or try to reassure him either this is a reward for his behaviour. Although it is hard, try to ignore any fearful behaviour that occurs.

For the Future - You need to start to do something to manage the dog’s phobia problems now in preparation for next year! Management can be using behavioural methods called desensitisation and counter-conditioning.

Specially made recordings of fireworks can be used to train dogs not to react to the noises they fear and a CD with full instructions can be obtained from Sound Scary: www. SoundsScary.com Phone: 01244 377365

It is advisable to discuss your dog’s phobia problem with your vet.
This information is based on material written by Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB and Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB.
Dogs Worldwide.com - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Burns Pet Nutrition

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