By Laurie Darroch
Although fireworks are festive, exciting and beautiful to us, to a dog they can be frightening and very painful.
Some dogs have no problems dealing with the noise, but other dogs do not handle the situation as well. Your dog can become destructive, loud or act very frightened when the fireworks begin.
A dog’s ears are much more sensitive than those of their human companions. Fireworks are loud even to people. To a dog the noise level is more elevated and intense. If you have ever seen a human child who is frightened of fireworks or any other extreme noise, imagine what a dog must be experiencing when fireworks are exploding nearby.
To help your dog cope with the agitation fireworks can cause for them, try these methods to alleviate the problem and make them more comfortable.
Companionship during stressful times is good for human and dog alike. There is security in having someone close by.
By Linda Cole
A few summers ago, a young raccoon in the neighborhood apparently decided my dogs were interesting to watch. I don’t know if he was lonely or thought the dogs were funny looking, but he’d show up almost every day when they were outside in their pen. He’d climb one of the trees overlooking the pen to sit and watch them. The dogs knew he was in the tree, and it frustrated them to no end. The raccoon forced us to change our nighttime routine to keep the dogs from waking up the neighborhood with their excited barking. He eventually moved on, but his presence definitely stressed out the dogs. We don’t always stop to consider how anxiety in a dog or cat’s life affects them, or what even causes it, but too much stress can lead to health issues and behavior problems.
What Causes Stress for Pets?
Shelter animals deal with stress on a daily basis. They live in a noisy environment with no way to escape or hide. Sensitive pets have a hard time dealing with shelter life. Stray and lost pets have to contend with a host of issues that can put their health at risk. Stress in dogs and cats is caused by environmental, emotional or physical issues.
Environmental stress is caused by moving to a new home, a change in routine, holidays, loss of a family member (human or animal), other pets, trips to the vet and other issues dealing with their environment.
By Laurie Darroch
Like human beings, dogs react to stressful situations. Dogs show their anxiety through altered behavior, by becoming clingy, acting out, or even withdrawing. Unlike human beings though, dogs cannot express their anxiety in the verbal ways we do. It is up to a responsible pet owner to pay attention to the physical and behavioral cues their dog exhibits, and respond accordingly to help their dog calm down and deal with the situation that is giving them stress and anxiety.
Touch and contact helps both humans and dogs relieve anxiety, fear and stress. When a dog feels cut off from their human, their anxiety level is likely to increase. If they are hurting physically, just being close to you may help keep them calmer. Petting and cuddling your dog will help take away some of the anxiety.
By Laurie Darroch
A move to a new home can be disorienting and traumatic for a dog. The surroundings, smells, sounds and sights are all different. Everything is not in the places they are used to having them. Being uprooted may also make your dog anxious and clingy.
You may notice odd behavior in your dog immediately after you move to a new home. They may follow you everywhere like a shadow, or even act up in inappropriate ways that you may not realize are related to being in new surroundings. A move can make a dog feel insecure and unsure of what is happening. Thankfully, there are some ways you can help your dog adjust and settle in to his new home.
If possible, stay home with your dog for a few days so they begin to understand that the change is not temporary and you are not leaving them somewhere. Set up their bedding, water, CANIDAE food and toys right away so the dog can see familiar things around them even if the rest of the house is still in boxes or the mess of unpacking.
Take your dog for a walk on a leash to get them used to the sights, smells and sounds of the new neighborhood. This will help them become oriented to the new area. If you have a yard, spend some outside time there with your dog. This will help them realize that the yard is their space too. With you present while they explore, they will feel more secure.
By Linda Cole
One of the most commented articles here on the CANIDAE RPO blog is “Jealousy and Possessive Behavior in Dogs.” It’s easy to believe a dog is acting out and has bad behavior because he’s jealous of another dog in the family or he’s being possessive. Both may be true, but there are other reasons why dogs might suddenly stop getting along, as I discovered with my own pack.
Sometimes, dogs just don’t like each other
When we agreed to foster a friend’s dog, it was just supposed to be for a short period of time. But since he would be sharing space with ours, we socialized him with our pack. Dozer is a lovable terrier mix, and he adjusted well to his new environment. That is, until Dozer made a move to challenge Max, one of my dogs who is twice his size. We began to notice a change in Dozer’s body language around Max. Since they weren’t getting into fights, we decided it would be best to let them sort out their differences.
One day Max walked past Dozer and brushed against him. That was all it took; Dozer whirled around and latched on to Max around the ears. We got them separated and gave them time to calm down before letting them interact with each other. All was well for about a month before another fight broke out, then another month before the next fight. These were full-fledged fights, and we decided the best thing to do was to separate them and work on re-socializing them.
So far our attempts have failed. Dozer and Max just do not like each other, and I have my doubts they will ever be able to be together in the same room again without fighting. Sometimes the only thing you can do is adopt a management program to keep dogs separated permanently. Since Dozer isn’t ours and my friend is still not in a position to take him back, we will most likely continue to keep them separated to avoid more fights and keep them from hurting each other, or us.
By Linda Cole
Search and rescue dogs, police dogs and military dogs are by their handler’s side through some of the worst conditions nature and man can create. We don’t think of dogs as having the same sort of reactions to conditions that can affect a person, but dogs in war zones or those who work in difficult surroundings can have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), just like a person. However, these aren’t the only conditions that can cause a dog to experience this anxiety disorder.
Dogs have been going into war zones with humans for centuries. They’ve been used to run messages, search out the enemy, warn of intruders, guard prisoners and, in recent warfare, sniff out hidden explosives. Military dogs aren’t prepared for the real conditions of war. They may have experienced gunfire with their handler during training, but exploding bombs and battlefield conditions aren’t felt until a dog gets to the war zone. The same sights, smells and trauma experienced by soldiers are also felt by dogs, and it can cause a well balanced and happy dog to withdraw as anxiety overtakes him.
PTSD also affects dogs and cats that have gone through the traumatic and stressful aftermath of natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina or an abusive home. A severe thunderstorm or fireworks display can also cause a pet to become overwhelmed by anxiety. A dog that was attacked by another dog or wild animal can show signs of anxiety. To make matters worse, an owner who fails to understand why their pet has suddenly withdrawn from them or is showing signs of aggression may do the worst thing for the pet and just abandon him or surrender him to a shelter.