How to help your Rescue/nervous anxious dog and you, survive Halloween, Fireworks and Christmas
Being the guardian of 3 Romanian Rescue dogs, this is the time of the year I dread the most.
1 Clocks go back.
This can really affect, not just our dog's but us too. I know it takes me a few days to adjust to the change. You can help your dogs by starting now to change their routine. So think about feeding, walking a little earlier than normal. If you do this now, by the time the clocks change, your dog will already have acclimated to the changes.
2. Trick or Treat.
Doors knocking, excited children, weird and wonderful costumes. This can be a really scary time for our dogs.
Many overseas Romanian rescues have a mix of flock Guardian and already may be protective of their home and family. Keep them and your visitors safe by having them away from your door and visitors. Stair gates are fantastic for this, If needed have your dog on lead during this time, just in case you need to control a situation.
Management is the first priority.
Why not have a polite sign asking people to please not knock or ring. A bucket of goodies for them to help themselves by your door or gate.
Walk your dog before dark when the vampires are about.
Have a safe room, filled kongs, yummy long lasting chews and licky mats.
White noise or some jazz music playing.
A full tummy, some fun exercise, and chill out time. Remember to keep all human treats well out of the way, and be aware of nuts, some are toxic.
Safe nuts are……
Peanuts – plain and not in a shell
Hazelnuts – plain
Roasted cashews – plain and shelled. DO NOT feed raw cashews!
Pine nuts – plain and only in very small amounts due to their very high-fat content.
3. November 5th,
Of course means fireworks. The time of the year that causes the most stress to our dogs.
Before the day. Close curtains and switch on all your lights. let your dog get used to these changes before the day. If you just suddenly shut the curtains etc. when this isn’t the norm, your dog may worry. Check out Japanese drumming, play it numerous times a day.Pair it with the times you feed your dog. Quietly at first, gradually increasing the volume. (what you are looking for is no reaction, if you do get a reaction,lower the volume).
Plug ins can work for some dogs, again use these before the day. Check out herbal remedies, there are many available.
Here is a list of known herbal anti anxiety.
Low Level Herbal Anxiety Supplements
Bach Flower Remedies
Valerian & Scullcap
St John's Wort
Hydrosols (Product left over from the essential oil making process)
Adaptil sprays, plugins & collars
Nutraceuticals: Moderate Level Herbal Anxiety Supplements
Veterinary Prescribed Only Anxiety Medication
There are several options when it comes to anti-anxiety medication available by prescription only under the advisement of a Vet or Veterinary Behaviourist.
Thundershirts again can help, but also some dogs don’t like them and can see them as scary,(one of my dogs shut down wearing one)You may need to condition your dog to wearing one well before the event.
Talk to your vet.
Set up a safe place, make it special, maybe a covered crate, and feed yummy treats in there. It might be another room in your home. A nice comfy bed. everytime you take your dog there means lots of yummy food, maybe a raw bone (be aware if your dog may resourse gaurd) Spend quality time in there together, chill out together. Great time for massage, grooming etc.
Days before, during and after the 5th can still have fireworks.
Walk before dark, mind games, enrichment games.
Stodgy food before dark.
Encourage going into their safe place,(be aware though, they may pick their own place, and it may be beside you or away from you. Let them choose.
Try to be as calm as you can, do not ignore your dog, but give reassurance without sounding worried. Don't feel bad if your dog doesn't want you to be close, just keep poping to see them and reasure.
Please remember it is a good idea to keep your dog on lead, even in the garden, and even on your walk before dark, you never know when that firework may be let off, and a scared dog may bolt.
Be safe not sorry, check your microchip details are up to date.
Contact your vet and see if you can get any medication for your dog if he is really suffering
Decorations out, manic shopping, kids getting excited, visitors, lots and lots of yummy food, chocolates. Presents under the tree, so many changes happening.
Let your dog investigate your tree. It can be quite worrying for some dog's when something new arrives. If need be, position it somewhere that your dog cannot have access. Don’t have chocolate decorations, and be aware of wires.
You may change your furniture around, be aware, this might make your dog worried, let them get used to the changes.
Try to keep their beds etc in the same place as normal, if this isn’t possible help him by feeding yummy things with the bed in the new position.
A lot of things we can do to help our nervous dogs has been mentioned above.
A safe place to go
Full tummies, exercise, enrichment
Calmness, long lasting chews, snuffle mats and filled kongs etc.
Remember about all our human food that may be poisonous for our dogs.
Visitor reactivity as above, management is the key
Be aware of new children visiting, keep them and your dog safe, again management. Set rules, explain that when the dog is In their bed, room, behind the stair gate etc. they are out of bounds. Let the adults know this too, as when the alcohol flows, people forget and just want to love your dog.
Remember your dog is part of your family and deserves to have a lovely Christmas too. Including having some Turkey (no bones) and veg.
Give your dog time to come down from all the changes. A few quiet days for them and for you.
Your dog’s behaviour might be more challenging. It can be a tough time for them.
If you need more support, please seek help from a qualified trainer that uses only positive and kind methods.
You are very welcome to join my Facebook support group for Overseas and Romanian rescue adopters here
and why not check out my one to one support programmes here.