Fireworks and thunderstorms...

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Tazwell, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    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!
     
  2. elegy

    elegy overdogged

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Home Page:
    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.
     
  3. Kaydee

    Kaydee Guest

    ...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
     
  4. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    35
    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-Behavi...37114&sr=8-1&keywords=calming+collar+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/issues/3_5/features/Supplements-For-Anxious-Dogs_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.
     
  5. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    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.
     
  6. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Maryland
    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.
     
  7. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    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!
     
  8. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    8,694
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Maryland

    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.
     
  9. Ratboy

    Ratboy New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Messages:
    668
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2
    Location:
    Toledo, Ohio
    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.
     
  10. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    35
    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.

    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.
     
  11. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I Agree with you, Welsh. And Fleetwood doesn't bat an eye at digital sounds, but I know I have heard of a behavior expert somewhere, somehow using a sound DVD and leaving it on for the dog at increasing volume. Perhaps it was in a book-- Grisha Stewart maybe??

    Anyway, I bought a cap gun for that purpose, and I failed at that time at introducing it under threshold. And then it broke, within about 5 minutes, because it came from the dollar store. LOL! I did find, though, that with the caps in, it was scarier because of it's random fire and inconsistency. It didn't fire every time, it was like *snap snap snap snap POW snap POW POW snap snap snap snap snap snap POW*. I think that made It even scarier. So next time, I shall introduce it without the caps.
     
  12. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    35
    Yes, that is what they say to do with the CD (which you can do when downloading sound effects to an MP3 player, or just on your computer if you don't mind keeping the computer running). But yeah, she just doesn't care, like she knows something? "You can't fool her" lol. I just know it makes training that much harder, but at least I tried and it didn't cost an arm and a leg.

    For the cap gun, yeah you should always intro it first without being loaded, then load it with cookies! or balls! or, whatever they like, like you would a clicker. "Shoot" the gun and when it makes a sound give them their reward, repeat. But my suggestion for using it with caps, would be to have someone else shoot it off from a distance, calmly yell out "pull!" or whatever you want, then redirect them from the sound with a reward, sound=fun/nice things. Then slowly get closer. Actually though, I hate to admit what I'm doing with mine now after saying that, but needless to say it works for the use and she doesn't give it the "THE WORLD IS ENDING" reaction any more.
     
  13. Kaydee

    Kaydee Guest

    Something amusing about fireworks in the neighborhood, I wouldn't dare take her to a 4th of July outing...loud people, too many people, other dogs, grabbing children, flashing lights, balloons and fireworks...she'd have puppy heart failure.

    But the fireworks the neighbors set off make her mad now. She can't get past our fence but whatever direction the noise comes from she leaps at it barking loudly like she's saying " STOP IT JUST STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!!"
     
  14. elegy

    elegy overdogged

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    7,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Home Page:
    Steve reacts to thunderstorms well before they're audible to me, so he's not just reacting to the sound. He doesn't care at all about digital thunderstorm sounds. I play thunderstorms on my white noise machine sometimes and he doesn't care, even when I turn it up.

    Personally I'd prefer to treat the problem before it gets "really bad", because it's going to be a lot easier to work with before it's strongly strongly engrained.
     
  15. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Interestingly enough, we had a thunderstorm yesterday, and a rumble of thunder or two today.... not a flinch... We even sat on the porch and watched it pass like usual. With the Hol-ee Roller, of course!

    I think we are going to focus on desensitizing to snappy cap gun things for a while. What do you guys think about BAT for sound sensitivity?
     
  16. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    35
    I have yet to try it, still haven't looked fully into the program, but I say give it a try! It can't hurt at the least ;).
     
  17. yoko

    yoko New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2005
    Messages:
    5,347
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Yoshi could care less about storms or fireworks. But Lady use to be horrible. IMO those CDs and DVDs don't really work with thunderstorm issues *not sure on vacuum issues* because a lot of the reaction is probably from environmental changes and not necessarily just the loud noise. You can desensitize them to the loud noises but there isn't any way I know to really mimic a thunderstorm.
     
  18. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    35
    Look what popped up on my Facebook feed!
    http://www.dogsandfireworks.com/
    They have an MP3 you can download if anyone is interested, or you can just play the YouTube video.
     
  19. shazbot

    shazbot not so newby

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,824
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NC
    One of my dogs is deathly afraid of thunder, she tries to cram her entire 86 lbs body in my lap when they start. She shakes uncontrollably, pants, basically freaks. She has a high prey drive so we tried toys to get her to focus on those and even tried training with treats, she couldn't focus she was so scared. We tried the Thunder Shirt and found that it actually works for her. We've had a few big storms roll through since we got it and have noticed a huge improvement in her. She still wants to sit near by, but doesn't need to be in my lap, her shaking has stopped and she actually wants to chase her ball.

    I know the shirts don't work on all dogs, but we figured with a 45 day money back guarantee we had nothing to lose.
     
  20. ~WelshStump~

    ~WelshStump~ New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    35
    Unfortunately not, because I was told to "Give it time", we lost out on that one! By the time I was done "giving it time", the money back date ran out :mad:! BS to 45 days!

    Anyway, glad it helped your dog.

    But I did forget to mention in this thread on this forum, I was reminded on another forum, in the video I posted on the first page, that digging behavior you see her doing, did NOT start till AFTER we tried the Thundershirt! I don't know why it started, I don't know why the TS caused it and causes her to do it, but you put the shirt on and she starts to pace in smaller circles then digs to china! after she's done digging, she sits or lays down and shakes, and doesn't stop shaking for hours after the stimulus.

    Now, I was told my problem with the shirt was that it's to big on the chest piece, again watch the video and you'll see there is no way I can get the chest strap tight enough unless I tie it. Problem, the next size smaller wont fit her! The band that goes around the mid section it to small on the medium.

    I am not the first person to have this problem, but essentially if you have a dog shaped like a Greyhound, the Thundershirt may not work for you, people have said that if you can't get the strap around the front tight enough, it may not work. My suggestion would be, if you can find a local retailer (Petsmart sells them now) try it on at the store first! That way if none of them fit right, don't waste your money at all, if you find one that fits, you know you'll be buying the right model.
     

Share This Page