Polish Lowland Sheepdog - pons -pon the dog

 

 

 

Sophie(good canine certificate), owner: Pola Lichtmacher, breeder:Beverly Wilson, USA

 

"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 these fears:

 

  • 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 fearful.
  • Distract Your PON: 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.
  • Behavior Modification: 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.

Possible approaches:

 

  • 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.
  • Continue 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.
  • If these techniques arenít used correctly, they wonít be successful and can even make the problem worse. 
  • Consult Your Veterinarian: 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 anxious.
  • 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.