Now that the summer holidays are over, and some kind of normal routine returns to households up and down the country, thoughts are turning to the autumn months. For many pet owners this time of year brings a sense of dread, as Bonfire Night approaches and memories of last year’s whining, barking and cowering behind the sofa return to haunt anyone sharing their home with a nervous pet.
Whilst it is inevitable that the week around November 5th will bring fireworks and loud bangs, the good news is that there is plenty you can do to help reduce the stress felt by your pet (as well as by you!). The trick to effectively countering noise phobias is to start early, and now that we are a couple of months out, it is a good idea to take action.
The first thing to do is speak to your vet – many practices have either a vet or nurse who specialises in animal behaviour and who will have lots of experience working with nervous pets, helping them survive Bonfire Night with the curtains intact.
You can also buy CD-based programmes (either through your practice or online) to help build up your pet’s confidence and coping mechanisms; one of the most popular is available from our shop. Others are also available including for iTunes download.
The key with any desensitisation programme is to develop familiarity with loud noises, so that your cat or dog learns that they are nothing to be afraid of. This is done by exposing your pet to a loud noise in a safe and controlled environment, and slowly building up the volume and intensity of his or her exposure to loud noises.
Using the special noise CDs, all you need to do is play at a volume that does not provoke a reaction from your pet. Once your pet is settled and calm, with favourite toy or treat to hand, play the CD. If your pet reacts, switch it off and do not show any reaction; trying again the next day. If your pet does not react, leave the track playing for a minute and reward his or her calm behaviour. The next day, play the track again at the same volume, but for longer. Before long your pet will not react at any point during the fifteen-minute duration, and at this stage you can increase the volume before repeating the process over the coming days and weeks, at higher volumes and longer durations.
As you can see, the noise desensitisation process requires time and lots of patience, but it is extremely effective and so is well worth the effort to secure many years of panic-free Bonfire Nights in the future!
You can find plenty more advice and information on the subject of noise phobias here.
And as Halloween and Bonfire Night approach, we’ll also take a look at practical tips to help nervous pets cope on the night, so do check back here in a couple of weeks.
Until next time very best wishes,
Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.