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Reinforcing fear?

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by McKenzie, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. PennyGSD

    PennyGSD PetForums Senior

    Apr 16, 2012
    Likes Received:
    I have to say we've changed our approach this year as we rehomed a couple of Romanian street dogs 6 weeks ago.

    With previous dogs we've completely ignored the fireworks and done nothing different with our routines. The ignoring worked, and after 3 years Jack didn't bat an eyelid (sounds a long time, but fireworks don't go off all year round!).

    Our recent rescues are panic stricken, struggling to fit into tight spaces, shivering, etc etc. Anything new they encounter is greeted with fear initially, so you can imagine how well fireworks have gone down.

    We still haven't comforted them. Instead, what we have done is been very matter of fact. What we call 'jolly hockeysticks' voices, games with their favourite toy, titbits thrown around the room for them to chase. And a reassuring 'good dog' pat accompanied by 'settle down now'. So no comforting or sympathy as such, but very clearly showing them that we're not worried.

    And it seems to be working. While they won't go in the garden to toilet while pops and bangs are going off locally, they are both now visibly less stressed. Funny to see their heads swivel round to look at us when loud noises go off and then immediately settle back down when they see no reaction. It also seems to have speeded up the trust between us. I think they're starting to believe that we're capable of making good decisions and seem to be more relaxed in all other things too.

    Let's hope tonight will be the end of those bloody things until New Year though!
  2. Helbo

    Helbo PetForums VIP

    Sep 15, 2010
    Likes Received:
    For those who quoted / replied to my post...

    I'm not hanging my post solely on gun dogs. I was just wondering because police dogs are the only official noisy thing I could think of that may have stats linked to it, rather than qualitative anecdotes from regular dog owners.

    All I can add anecdotally is that none of my families dogs have been afraid of fireworks, several different breeds, all given training by us for loud noises and fireworks as pups - so I'll never truly know whether we've been incredibly lucky or whether it was the time and training we put in to show our dogs that things like fireworks aren't something to be worried about.
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