How can I calm my terrier who is afraid of fireworks?
my six-year-old Jack Russell, is terrified of fireworks and thunder. She pants and shakes whenever she hears them. I have had her for a year (she’s a rescue dog) but she is the most nervous dog I’ve ever had. Have you any suggestions? ATHERE
are lots of common-sense things you can do. A bed in a cupboard which can serve as a hiding place could help Dolly. Drawing the curtains early and putting the radio or television on is also a way to diminish the bangs and crashes. It is important to stay calm when she is panting and not make a special fuss of her as this may reinforce her behaviour.
There are several tranquillising drugs available from your vet. Current thinking is that traditional drugs, although calming, do not remove the feeling of terror so a certain amount of trial and error with more modern drugs may be required.
I think the better option is a combination of a dog appeasing
Olive (77), Essex pheromone dispenser, available from your vet. This releases a natural chemical which is similar to one produced by a bitch to calm her pups. There is also a CD designed by vets, specialising in behavioural problems. This would “de-sensitise” Dolly by gradually accustoming her to loud noises.
I feel it’s the best solution long term. Information on this approach is at www.soundsscary.com. Sedation need only be used on a few really
noisy nights. David Grant MBE has been a vet for 41 years and works at the RSPCA Harmsworth Hospital for Animals. Write to him at Express Yourself, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6EN. He is unable to enter into individual correspondence.