About Me

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Mumbai, India
I'm a landrace dog fancier, birder and amateur arachnologist. Founder of the INDog Project (www.indog.co.in) and the INDog Club. Before that, worked with urban free-ranging dogs of Mumbai from 1993-2007. Also a wildlife conservationist working in the tiger reserves of central India with Satpuda Foundation.

This blog is for aboriginal breed enthusiasts. It is part of the INDog Project www.indog.co.in. Only INDogs (Indian Pariah) and INDog-mix mongrels are featured here. The two are NOT the same, do please read the text on the right to understand the difference. Our aim: to create awareness about the primitive natural breed called the Indian Pariah Dog/INDog. I sometimes feature other landrace breeds too.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dealing with your dog's fear of firecrackers

Let’s face it, for most of us Diwali is an occasion to be looked forward to with dread more than any other emotion. The sight of one’s pet trembling, hiding, refusing food, trying to run away and generally getting stressed out of his mind does not inspire joy, to put it mildly.

We asked canine behaviour consultant Shirin Merchant how to make the whole experience less traumatic for our dogs (and ourselves!) She sent us an excellent chart which I’ve posted here. I’ve added a small note on homeopathic medication.

• It is not uncommon for dogs to be hesitant, or even frightened by loud noises.

• Often a dog will react to a noise as a direct reflection of his human companion. If you show fear, act nervous or scared of a loud noise, your dog will pick up on your subtle signals and learn that loud noises are to be feared. It can take only one incident for a dog to get scared of loud noises. A dog’s ears are sensitive, and loud noises can hurt them.

• Do not praise your dog when he shows fear of loud noises. If you do, you are not only praising him for being frightened, but you are making it more likely that he will be frightened the next time a loud noise happens. Many well-meaning dog owners increase their dog's anxiety by stroking, cuddling, and saying "It's OK" when their dogs act nervous. Instead spend some quality time with your dog being fun and playful. Try and distract him away from the noise.

• If your dog is already afraid of loud noises, then a process of desensitization will help. Desensitizing your dog involves exposing your dog to low-volume noises. Gradually increase the noise level while giving him something pleasurable such as praise and a food treat. Over a period of time your dog will get used to the noise. This process is best carried out under the supervision of a canine behaviour counselor.

• Dogs instinctively seek out confining spaces when frightened. If your dog hides under the bed or behind a cupboard don’t drag him out in an attempt to comfort him. Instead put some clothing or towels with your familiar scent next to the dog for reassurance. It would also help if you play soothing, easy listening music relatively loud to help drown out the fear-producing noise.

• In severe cases of the dog being frightened, drugs and homeopathy can help your canine companion. You MUST consult your vet before attempting to give any drugs to your dog.

• Firecrackers can harm pets. Be extremely cautious when lighting firecrackers around animals. The gunpowder in firecrackers is potentially toxic to pets if they eat it. Also, there is always a danger of a dog getting hurt or burned if fireworks are accidentally shot at them.

For more information contact “Canines Cane Care” at k9cancare@hotmail.com

Try this homeopathic remedy

Borax 1M can help your pet deal with his fear of crackers and loud noises. Buy it in liquid form, preferably as a sealed bottle from a reputed company such as Shwabes India or Dr Reckeweg.

One dose is 2-3 drops in one tablespoon of water. If your pet has a very extreme fear of crackers, start giving one dose a day about two weeks (or even three weeks) before Diwali. As the Big Noise Day approaches, increase to two doses daily (morning and night). On Biggest Noise Day, give three or even four doses depending on how scared your dog is. Discontinue once the crackers stop.

As with all homeopathic medication, you have to leave an hour’s gap before or after your pet’s meal. Store the medicine away from strong light, heat or strong-smelling substances like food or perfume. Never touch the medicine directly with your hands – use a clean spoon or syringe to feed it to your dog.

We’ve generally had good feedback about this remedy, though there are a few cases who don’t respond. Please let me know if it helped your dog.


Rajashree Khalap said...

I am posting this message from Lata Bajaj, owner of Myra and Sandy:

"My kids are doing fine after the harrowing period of Diwali crakers going on till 1 pm or more. I tried your recommendation of getting the kids used to noise so they kind of toughen up. That helped a lot .I face some specific territorial issues between the kids so being at two places at the same time was impossible as Myra needs to be tucked in by 11 and Sandy is not allowed in the bedroom by her. So I used to leave Myra with her music and aircon on 'loud mode' and had to stay in the living room to hug Sandy when ever he quivered. Poor kid it was tough on him he invariably had to cry himself to sleep. He was sad and depressed till last Sunday come Monday the kids were normal but for the fact they were full of soot from the heavy fire crackers. It really angers me when I see how senselessly we treat out fellow co-inhabitants. I wish we could change something for our animals. I know we all can move mountains if we apply our minds to it."

Rajashree Khalap said...

My aunt hit on the music idea too, for her little pariah-mix Lucy in Alibagh. Hordes of tourists descend on this peaceful place every Diwali, with the specific intention of making it just as noisy and hellish as Mumbai. For many years now, poor Lucy has been spending every festive season going almost out of her mind with fright, refusing to eat or go out of the house all evening. This year my aunt played the Chariots of Fire theme until everyone except Lucy was sick of it. Then she switched to Pavarotti. Lucy visibly calmed down, actually ate her dinner just before midnight and even went out to make a puddle shortly after the crackers stopped. What a tribute to the late great tenor! Lata's Myra and Sandy like classical music too, preferably Carnatic.

Red Eyes said...

Oh, really helpful that you have blogged on the fear aspect. I think this will be really helpful ...