Thursday, October 25, 2012

Remember, remember, the 5th of... it's firework time again

Q: With bonfire night approaching quickly have you any tips for helping my 9 year old border collie/spaniel cross cope with the sound of fireworks? We keep him indoors, but the noise has him shaking uncontrollably.
A: Keep him indoors during the evenings. Make sure he has a microchip for identification, wears a collar and ID tag at all times, and give him plenty of exercise during the day.

Back at home, give him a large high carbohydrate meal before the fireworks are likely to start, and provide him with a comfortable place to hide away, such as under furniture or even in a cupboard. Close all windows and doors, draw the curtains and turn on some music to muffle the noise outside.

Remember the golden rule of training: you reward with your attention the behaviour you want to encourage, and make every attempt to 'reward' undesireable behaviour by ignoring it.

So when he's a gibbering wreck as yet another rocket goes off in your show-off neighbour's garden, do not sweep him up in your arms and tell him what a good boy he is. You can of course allow him to come to you for comfort. 

Do not even consider punishing him for his fear.

See if you can distract him with games or even a few training exercises and strongly reward any more normal interaction with you. Give him problem solving toys like a Kong stuffed with tasty food. Consider inviting one of his braver buddies round for a sleepover, invest in an Adaptil pheromone diffuser and a 'Sounds Scary' noise phobia CD ( well in advance.

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