Friday, January 2, 2015
Noise Phobias in Dogs
Hey everyone! I hope you're all having a great day and Happy Friday!! :D
On New Year's Eve, I wrote a little bit about Zoe's noise phobia and how I was worried about the Fireworks. Today I wanted to update everyone on how everything went and tell you more about her problem and her history.
I got Zoe on August 17th 2011 and I honestly had no idea she had any problems. If you click on her page there's the whole story of her adoption.
I first realized there was something wrong when I decided to start clicker training her. I clicked the clicker and she ran from me and hid in the bedroom. I thought it was weird, so I went and got her and tried again. Same thing. She ran into the bedroom and this time she started shaking. I figured her ears were just really sensitive and scrapped the clicker and decided to just use a marker word.
We had signed up for a dog training class at Petsmart. At the time I worked there and it was free so I thought, Why not? I talked to the trainers there and wanted to make sure that I was not going to be enrolled in a clicker class. They assured me I was not. When we got to class, the instructor immediately handed clickers out to everyone and they all started clicking away. The clicks echoed off the sides of the building and my new dog crawled underneath my stool and completely shut down. It was actually really sad to watch and I was pretty pissed. I only went to one other class and ended up dropping out.
I met an agility instructor at the dog park and after talking it over with her, I did set out to get Zoe used to the clicker but gradually. We saved pieces of our dinner for her every night and we'd click the clicker once and give her a very high value treat and call it a night. We did this for weeks until we could click the clicker a few times before ending the session and I also purchased some clickers that weren't as loud. It took 6 months to properly desensitize her to the clicker to the point I could actually start using it as a marker.
Fast forward to a year after adopting her, it wasn't quite the fourth of July yet, we were at the dog park and she had been playing with her friend. All of a sudden she had a panic attack and was hiding under the bench, shivering and drooling. Her eyes had completely glazed over. I had been watching her the whole time, so I knew she hadn't gotten into anything. I thought she might be stressed out because the previous day we had been at Doggie Dash and we had a really busy week. I'm assuming now she had heard a bang. I took her home from the dog park and a little while later she was okay again. At this point I worked at the vet clinic so if I had been really concerned I could of taken her to work and had her looked at but her gums were a normal color, her temperature was normal and she seemed fine other than the shivering and acting freaked out.
Then Fourth of July happened. It was really bad. Our neighbors were pretty much lighting fireworks off right outside our window. She would pace, drool, shiver and her eyes looked glazed over and nothing we did helped. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink and wouldn't stop pacing or shivering. It continued well into the night, even after the bangs stopped. It was absolutely awful to watch her go through it, with no way of telling her it would be okay. For the next two weeks or so our neighbors randomly lit off fireworks. It was miserable.
Since then, any time she hears any sort of bang, if it has a bass to it, she will panic. Including fireworks on the tv. Even our stereo freaked her out to the point where we just got rid of it. We've tried desensitizing cds with behavior mod, thundershirts, drugs, herbel remedies, calming collars. You name it, I've probably tried it. I have not found anything to be particularly helpful, except the one time when we were at the dog park. Zoe had heard a bang and one of the other regulars had a jack russell who was very tenacious. He noticed Zoe under the bench looking upset and he went up to her and immediately started pestering her. Once he got her playing she was okay again. Sometimes Phoenix is able to help her calm down, too but it usually takes a long time. Phoenix is not as tenacious as my friends dog was and she won't continue to pester Zoe if Zoe isn't in the mood to play.
So last night, we started preparing early for fireworks. I took them out to go potty early, gave her a sedative, put her thundershirt on (I haven't found that it really helps her but I still put it on) and then we turned on several fans and turned the tv up as loud as we could stand it. Around midnight, I heard all of 2 bangs but they were pretty far off in the distance! Zoe did notice them and she went to her "safe spot" in the bedroom but she didn't have a full blown melt down like I had seen in the past. I was so relieved! I hate watching her panic with no way to help her feel better.
I'm under no allusion that the 4th of July will go as smoothly but at least I have around 6 months to worry about it.
I hope everyone else's New Year went okay!! Does you dog panic at fireworks, too? Or are they okay?