quarta-feira, 10 de junho de 2009

Dealing with noise phobias

Part of the secret is to get the dog calm BEFORE they are so stressed that a lot of different things that might work, won't work at this level of stress. With thunderstorms, sometimes there is enough warning. With 4th of July, there's plenty of warning. It's also possible to use a D,C&C protocol.

However, the most success I've had with dogs that have noise phobias as well as environmental stress issues, is using an Anxiety Wrap. There are imitations that can work and if I'm in a bind (no pun intended), I'll use a child's t-shirt or do a wrap I learned from TTouch using ace bandages. The real deal (Anxiety Wrap) is pricey but well worth it.

The thing about dogs that are stressed because of fear is this:

1. Some dogs do better if they are comforted.
2. Some dogs do better if they are NOT comforted.

It can be difficult determining which dogs benefit from which method. It has been written for many years in many dog-training books that you should never comfort a dog when they are afraid as you will be reinforcing that 'it's okay to be afraid'. Well, it depends on the dog. Once again, so many things dealing with animal behavior are not, nor should they be advertised, as cast and concrete or cut and dried. Not all dogs do well with all protocols. Like us, each dog is different. I really try to avoid blanket statements, especially when it comes to assessment, cures, prevention and management when it comes to giving advise about animal behavior or dog training.

Most protocols using a D,C&C approach for fear issues start off with finding the dog's comfort zone and working from there. In the case of noise phobias, sometimes just associating the storm with good things will work. IOW, have a party as soon as the storm starts and end the party when the storm is over - called Bar Open - Bar Closed. It's critical that the party begins before the stress level is high or this method won't work or progress is too slow. The owner's behavior is equally as important during these stress periods. It's important that the dog doesn't pick up vibes saying "Oh, no, another _____, he's going to be upset". To help students with this I suggest singing upbeat tunes and my favorite is "Happy Birthday" as one usually cannot sing this without sounding happy. "Humpty Dumpty" can work or many other nursery rhymes as you would sing them to a child. It doesn't hurt to chew gum or eat a mint as it's believed that it can off-set the chemicals emitting fear that the dogs sense in us humans. There's no evidence to support this theory (gum/mint), however, since it can't do any harm, why not include it in one's protocol.

Noise sensitivity is one of the most difficult for a dog to overcome.

[Escrito por Cher McCoy em 1º de janeiro de 2006 para a lista Petdogs-L do Yahoo Groups]

The bottom line is "do what works" for the dog to feel most comfortable. With two girls frightened of t-storms, a number of the conventional approaches just didn't work. And while we are not supposed to "coddle" or reward our dogs during a storm, I have to say that what ended up being most effective with younger Windy is to put her on my lap. While generally not a lap dog, this works for her... She curls in my lap and watches the storm out the window with keen interest, but feeling safe and no trembling or barking. Her reaction diffused my older dog's fears, and I guess she figures that since her buddy doesn't need to fuss, neither does she.

Every dog is different.

[Escrito por Nancy Tucker em 1º de janeiro de 2006 para a lista Petdogs-L do Yahoo Groups]

The coolest solution I've heard of came from a Sheltie rescuer. She had four shelties, all of whom were terrified of thunder... And she lives in Florida, the thunderstorm capital of the world. What makes her solution work is that all her Shelties love popcorn and they all love sleeping in the bed with her. Now both those things are reserved for thunderstorms. When the thunder rolls, she yells, "Party time!!" and throws a bag of popcorn in the microwave. When it's done, she pops a video into the player, climbs on the bed with all the dogs and snuggles up, everyone eating popcorn and watching the movie.

She said at first they were too freaked out to eat the popcorn and just huddled under the covers, but gradually they began to figure out that thunderstorms meant GOOD things. When she gets in a new rescue who's scared, it takes him much less time to get over it with the other dogs running to the kitchen with tails wagging as soon as it thunders!

[Escrito por Sharyn Hutchens em 31 de dezembro de 2005 para a lista Petdogs-L do Yahoo Groups]

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