Polish Lowland Sheepdog - pons -pon the dog
PONzilla Boczek, New Brunswick, Canada
"Being good is so exhausting"
Does Your PON React to Startling sounds ?
PONS that react to
firecrackers may become afraid of individuals who have
firecrackers or may become fearful of the backyard, if thatís
where they usually hear these startling sounds.
How owners can cope with
Focus on creating
a safe place for your PON to take shelter when he/she hears
these noises that startle her. However, be aware this must
be a safe location from the perspective of your PON. Notice
where she takes shelter, when she is frightened, and
if at all possible, allow your PON access to that place. If
she attempts to dash inside the house, consider installing a
dog door. If your PON tries to get under your bed, allow her
access to your bedroom. Offer food in that location and
associate other "good things" happening to your PON over
there. He/she must be able to come and go from this location
freely. The "safe place" approach may work well with some
PONS, but not all PONS. Some PONS feel motivated to be
active when frightened and hiding wonít help them feel less
This method works best when your PON is just starting to
become nervous. Encourage your PON to engage in any
activity that captures her attention and distracts her from
behaving fearfully. Start when she first alerts you to the
noise and is not yet showing a lot of fearful behavior, but
is only watchful. Immediately try to interest your PON in
participating in activities that are stress-free. Play fetch
with a tennis ball or practice some commands your PON is
familiar with. Offer your PON lots of praise and treats for
paying attention to the ball game and the commands. As the
storm or the noise builds, you may not be able to keep her
attention on the activity, but it might delay the start of
the fearful behavior for longer and longer each time you do
it. If you canít keep her attention and she begins becoming
anxious, halt the process. If you continue, you may
inadvertently reinforce fearful behavior.
modification techniques are often successful in reducing
fears and phobias. The appropriate techniques are called
"counter-conditioning" and "desensitization." This means you
can condition or teach your PON to respond in non-fearful
ways to sounds and other stimuli that previously frightened
her. This must be done very slowly. You can start by
exposing her to an intensity level of noise that doesnít
frighten him/her and combine it with something pleasant,
like a treat or a fun game. Gradually increase the volume as
you continue to offer something pleasant. Through this
process, your PON will come to associate "positive things"
with the previously feared sound.
Play a dvd with
firecracker and other loud noises.
Play the dvd at an
extremely low volume so that your PON doesnít respond
anxiously. While the dvd is playing, offer food, a
treat or play favorite games.
In your next
session, play the dvd a little louder while you feed her or
play favorite games.
increasing the volume through many sessions over a period of
several weeks or months. If at any time while the dvd is
playing, your PON displays fearful behavior, STOP. Begin
your next session at a lower volume - one that doesnít
produce anxiety - and proceed more slowly.
techniques arenít used correctly, they wonít be successful
and can even make the problem worse.
Medication may be
available which can make your PON less anxious for short
time periods. Your veterinarian is the only person who is
licensed and qualified to prescribe medication for your dog.
Donít attempt to give your dog any over-the-counter or
prescription medication without consulting your
veterinarian. in extreme cases, behavior modification
and medication used together might be the best approach.
Avoid the following:
Do not Put your
PON in a crate to prevent him/her from being destructive
during a thunderstorm. She will still be afraid when sheís
in the crate and is likely to injure herself, perhaps even
severely, while attempting to get out of the crate.
Donít punish your
PON for being afraid. Punishment will only make her more
Avoid trying to
force your PON to be close to the sound that frightens her.
Forcing your PON to stay close to a group of folks who are
lighting firecrackers will only make her more nervous, and
could cause him/her to become aggressive in an attempt to
escape from the situation.