Seasonal tips for your dog..
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Every year the sky’s are alight with rockets, Catherine wheels and Roman candles, as bangs explosions and bright lights are accompanied by screams, sirens and howling dogs the country over.
During Halloween and the New Year celebrations the likelihood of a firework or two in your area can cause your pets unnecessary stress and even injury, so what can you do to minimize the risks ?
Frightened dogs can have different reactions; some tremble at their owners’ feet, some become very destructive and begin pacing and panting, others retreat to a hiding place, some try to run off and others display unpredictable even aggressive behaviour.
Any of these types of behaviour could indicate that your dog is developing a phobia towards noise.
If a dog hasn’t been safely exposed to many different experiences, including loud noises during his essential socialisation period (3 to 14 weeks of age), when he gets older he may not be able to cope with frightening sounds like fireworks or loud engine noises. Left alone, noise phobia tends to get worse rather than better, so you really do need to act to help your dog, if he’s frightened on New Years Eve night.
Many dogs can benefit from a process we call desensitisation. This involves slowly acclimatising your dog to the sounds of fireworks. Phone Apps are now available, which simulate the random and unpredictable noises of fireworks. Over a period, these are played a number of times a day gradually building up the volume and length of time it is played.
Here are some other useful tips
- Create a safe, comfortable and quiet den area for your dog. Ideally, this should be in a place which is furthest from the fireworks and where they are used to resting. The room should be able to be darkened to hide the firework flashes. Make sure however, that they are free to come and go to this area, taking care not to lock them in the room alone.
- Feed them an hour before the event and make sure they have been out to the toilet.
- Play music or turn on the TV to help drown out the sound of fireworks.
- If your dog does not want to settle in their den or crate, then try playing some games or have a training session with their favourite treats as rewards.
- There are a number of proven natural remedies to help calm dogs during stressful periods. These usually contain camomile which are tried and tested aids which can help to reduce fear, stress and anxiety naturally to help keep pets calm during what can be a very frightening time without sedating them.
- Ask your vet about Dog Appeasing Phermones (DAP). This is a scent that comes in the form of a plug in diffuser, collar or spray that can comfort your dog and help them cope with their fear.
Do NOT try to pat and stroke your dog in an attempt to sooth them if they are showing signs of stress. This simply rewards how they are behaving and reinforces their fear. Don’t let them know you’re concerned. Remember "Calmness Leads to Reward" you must always project a calm confident aura, this helps provide security and stability for your dog.
For many dog owners, how to keep their dog warm during the cold winter is a big concern. There are many ways to do this.
If your dog is small, has short hair, or is older, you may want to consider purchasing a dog coat to help keep him warm.
In some climates, it is appropriate to choose a sweater for the autumn months and a heavier jacket for the colder winter months.
When choosing a coat for your dog. Choose something simple that is easy for you to put on.
You may need to acclimate your dog to wearing a coat as some dogs do not like to be dressed up. To do this, simply put the coat on for short periods each day making sure to give lots of praise and reward. Your dog will learn to associate wearing his coat with something positive. Always choose a coat made from durable material, just because it’s cute doesn’t necessarily mean that it is appropriate. If snow is a concern, look for water resistant materials.
Dogs that walk a lot, work outside, or are older, may also need to wear boots. Dog boots are available from many manufacturers and help keep feet protected from ice, snow, and salt.
If you choose not to purchase boots for your dog, make sure to remove ice and snow from between his pads when he comes inside. This will help keep him warm as well as help prevent dry, cracked and irritated pads.
If your dog lives primarily outside, you will want to make sure you get him a good quality warm shelter.
Ensure that it keeps wind, rain, and snow away from your dog. Make sure that the opening does not face the wind. Provide a bed or several blankets to help protect your dog from the frost.
During the winter, it is just as important to keep your dog properly groomed as it is during the summer.
Your dog’s coat provides natural insulation against the elements. It is important to keep your dog’s coat brushed and free of mats and tangles.
The hair between the foot pads needs to be trimmed regularly to help prevent ice balls from forming.
Regular grooming will help ensure proper body temperature during the winter months.
Some dogs, especially those kept outside, will require extra food during the winter months. It is important to discuss these nutritional needs with your veterinarian or pet professional.
If your dog is kept outside,it is vital that he has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Snow and ice are not appropriate for hydration. Be careful to make sure that his water has not frozen over.
There are many things you can do to ensure that your dog stays warm and safe during the winter months.
If you have further questions about how to do this, please ask your veterinary surgeon or pet professional.