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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18945
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My dog is afraid of thunder, gunshots and fireworks. How can

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My dog is afraid of thunder, gunshots and fireworks. How can I help her overcome this fear.

Hi Lasmith,

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Different experts come on at different times. I woke up and checked to see if there was any customers needing help before going back to bed and saw you were waiting. I'll go ahead and answer before retiring again.

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I know that the skin, face and health issues are more of a priority than the noise problem, but I'll address the noise issue first and then the other.

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Noise phobias are really a common problem. Many dogs have reactions to different noises. This is really a problem around the 4th of July and fireworks. For things like thunderstorms, some people tape the noise and play it back at lower volumes while playing with the dog and providing positive reinforcement for the dog's lack of anxiety while the noise is played at low volumes. Positive reinforcement would include calm praise and hot dog slices or other tasty treat (not regular treats. You then gradually increase the volume slowly until your dog is desensitized to the noise. Your vet could prescribe a medication called Acepromazine, which is a tranquilizer. You can read about this here:

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/acepromazine-promace-aceproject/page1.aspx

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Another prescription drug would be Xanax but I have to caution you not to give any prescription drug to your dog without consulting your vet first.

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/alprazolam-xanax/page1.aspx

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Leaving a TV playing loud also helps prevent your dog from hearing the outside noises. Another treatment is Melatonin which you can read about here. It has been shown to work well for noise phobias.

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/melatonin-melatonex/page1.aspx

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DAP collars might help a bit as well. They produce pheromones that mimic the ones produced by a nursing mom to calm her pups. It has proven to be helpful with this problem but was used in conjunction with desensitization so it is unknown if the collar or the training was the major factor in resolving the problem.

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Now on to the other health issues. Dogs with allergies exhibit many different symptoms including skin issues, ear infections, eye infections, red and weepy eyes, diarrhea and drooling from gastointestinal upset. Like allergies in humans, an allergic reaction can cause itchiness. The dog scratches and it damages the skin and the immune system. With a damaged immune system, the staph and yeast always present on the dog's skin multiplies unchecked. This growth cause further itching even after the initial allergic response or allergen is removed. That is why once we know what a dog is allergic to, it is removed from the dog's environment and then the skin has to be cleared up one last time to get it undercontrol. For instance, a dog is allergic to beef, so all beef products are eliminated from his diet and after a couple of weeks (it takes a while to get out of the system), antibiotics, shampoos and prednisone oare prescribe to clear up the skin infections from the prior exposure. This usually works to stop the cycle and the dog's skin recovers and the problem is fixed.

Hi JaCustomer,

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My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

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In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

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This is really a common problem and many dogs react to the same noises. This is really a problem around the 4th of July and fireworks. For things like thunderstorms and fireworks and gunshots, some people tape the noise and play it back at lower volumes while playing with the dog and providing positive reinforcement for the dog's lack of anxiety while the noise is played at low volumes. Positive reinforcement would include calm praise and hot dog slices or other tasty treat (not regular treats. You then gradually increase the volume slowly until your dog is desensitized to the noise. You need to go very slowly when increasing the volume or you trigger the reaction again and have to move back a few steps. Your vet could prescribe a medication called Acepromazine, which is a tranquilizer. You can read about this here:

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/acepromazine-promace-aceproject/page1.aspx

Another prescription drug would be Xanax but I have to caution you not to give any prescription drug to your dog without consulting your vet first.

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/alprazolam-xanax/page1.aspx

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Many people get Rescue Remedy to help with noise phobias. Be sure you get the kind that does NOT contain Xylitol. You can read about this here:

http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/rescue_remedy.htm

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It may also be available in your local pet store as well. Benadryl is often used as it does tend to calm your dog. Benadryl can be given to your dog, the dose is up to 2mg per pound every 8 hours. Benadryl in not a sedative though so it won't put your dog to sleep. Leaving a TV playing loud also helps prevent your dog from hearing the outside noises. Another treatment is Melatonin which you can read about here. It has been shown to work well for noise phobias.

http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/melatonin-melatonex/page1.aspx

.

DAP collars might help a bit as well. They produce pheromones that mimic the ones produced by a nursing mom to calm her pups. It has proven to be helpful with this problem but was used in conjunction with desensitization so it is unknown if the collar or the training was the major factor in resolving the problem.

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I would start with the DAP collar and training like I mentioned to desensitize your dog to the sounds. Comforting a dog when they are reacting feaful to a noise actually encourages the behavior, so you need to ignore the bad behavior totally and desensitize her to the noise. Some people do believe in just taking a dog around the noise all the time until the dog no longer reacts. For some dogs this actually works, but in other cases, it can make a dog even worse, so I would do it my way first. If the Dap collar doesn't seem to calm her enough, you could try some of the medications as well. Since the DAP collar is not medicine, it can be used in conjunction with medication.

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I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .

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If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here http://www.justanswer.com/pet/expert-jane-lefler/ and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

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Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Daisy. How is everything going?

Jane Lefler

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