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Awful time of year for my boy

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Hi, been a while since I posted here but am back again. My border collie Al is 5 and we've had him 2 years from the Dogs Trust rescue here in the UK.


It's taken a long time but he was really starting to come round - at first he only liked me, he was extremely noise sensitive and had not been socialised at all. But with a lot of patience (and nearly being at the end of my tether) he seemed to relax and although still bolted when there was a distant gunshot the time it took him calm down became a lot shorter. But, now I feel like its gone back to square one.


Here in the UK we have Guy Fawkes night - you know, bonfires, fireworks etc - only its never just one night - its been like the blitz the last 2 weeks and it has really hit Al hard. I've had to crate him to stop him destroying our home and hurting himself.


Over the last few months we've been giving him some drops called Bach(?) in his water that has seemed to help and he's been a happier dog. But now I can't take him out without him just being on edge all the time, and a car backfiring in the distance, or a distant gunshot from a shooting range and he's bolting blindly and not returning at all. This lunchtime there were 3 spaced distant gunshots and he headed straight off, out of the field/park I take him in and onto the main road not paying any attention to me. He is darn lucky he didn't end up dead. In the past I've tried playing fireworks/gunshot sounds from a CD i have and it doesn't seem to affect him whatsoever - its only the real thing bothers him. If he is on the lead he will just get his head down. ears flat back, and tail right between his legs and drag me all the way home.


I don't even know what i'm asking. I suppose it's just back to the drawing board again with him with time and patience. I just feel like every year this is going to knock him back - and then there'll be New Year fireworks :(


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My 3 dogs are all really sound sensitive. Our 4th of July is like your Guy F. day. We have fireworks going off for days. I just keep my dogs on tranquilizers and when it gets really bad they are in their crates with blankets covering them up.


Lots of border collies are really sensitive to fireworks and gunshots and any kind of explosions.

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I know your pain. I try to figure out where they consider their safe space....for one dog it is the tub, another the closet. For those scary planned fireworks times, I set them up in their spot with toys, put classical music on, pile stuff like pillows around them. A random backfire on a walk, I try to be upbeat and encourage courage. Patience is your best tool. Good luck.

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Thanks - I will keep going don't worry :) I find it hard because I read advice like "try and distract him with his favourite toy" - but he just doesn't play with anything - doesn't chase a ball (although i have trained him to fetch for a treat) - he obviously was not socialised before we got our hands on him so there is no distraction. As for a favourite place - when he is scared its like he doesn't know where to put himself and just tries to cram himself in or behind the smallest gap / hole possible. So I put him in his crate and he proceeds to destroy his bedding. Ah patience :)

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Advice like that might be helpful for a dog who's only mildly frightened, but not for a dog like yours. My current noise phobic dog is really only what I'd call mildly frightened, but there's no way he'd be distracted by an invitation to play. My first border collie was terrified and nothing anyone could have offered to distract him would have helped. He was beyond the ability to respond. Ditto with a Welsh friend's dog, who seemed at first to be only mildly scared and hid behind the couch on Guy Fawke's Day. Turns out that she was chewing her rump bloody while she was hiding.


Bodhi, my current dog, looks to me for comfort. He used to be more frightened than he is now and I'd give him melatonin and hug him tightly during whatever the noisy event was (fireworks, thunderstorms, gunshots). It really did help him and he's actually become less frightened, to the point where he's OK without melatonin most of the time and satisfied just to sit in my lap (well, what fits of him in my lap). But he was never so bad that he was beyond the ability to respond and, as I said, he looked to me for comfort. I think as bad as it is for your dog, something stronger is called for.


Best wishes for finding a solution that will lessen his panic.

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  • 1 month later...

Thought I'd give a bit of an update on Al. New Year's he was frightened and urinated bits everywhere poor bugger. I calmed him best I could and he pulled through.


But - just after Guy Fawkes night I noticed he'd broken one of his teeth - presumably from fear of fireworks (he can get a little destructive when he's terrified). Anyway, the vet had a look the best she could (he's not keen on people poking round his mouth) and said he would need a general anesthetic and a dental inspection. So, I took him in for this and later phoned the vets to get an update.


"Well, he's come through the op no problem but he's still under so you could ring in an hour or so and we'll see how he is and if you can take him home."


Right - great.


20mins later the phone rings: "Hello Mr ---- we were wondering if you could come and pick Al up now?"


I said "Erm, right ok what's happened?"


She said they'll explain when I come.


So off I toddled to the vets and I got took into a room.


"Al's had 7 teeth removed. One was a big rotten one with a hole in it that would have been giving him considerable pain, and the other 6 were damaged as if he has been chewing rocks or biting metal."


Apart from being shocked I said he's never done anything like that since we've had him (he's a rescue dog).


Anyway - poor Al had come round from the anesthetic early before they'd had chance to clean his muzzle and remove the IV lines from his front legs. He'd panicked, jumped off the table, and then proceeded to have explosive diarrhea all over the room and of course all over his own back end. Then wouldn't let anyone near him to try and clean him up.


I was shocked at first - but then they went and got him and the second he saw me he was happy - bouncing around, jumping up, and swishing his tail (and spreading poop over the vet walls). I got him home and had to clean him outside in the rain with a bucket and a car sponge.


Anyway - since then he has been a lot happier dog. I suppose you would be a grumpy so and so if you had constant toothache. His eyes and his face have relaxed and he wears a much more calmer expression. He's still scared of bangs but he is a much more content dog after having those teeth out.


Some folks may have been embarrassed but I was proud as any dad when I picked him up from the vets and spent all night looking after him being woozy.

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With that much pain in his mouth he could have been much, much more noise sensitive. Imagine having a dental drill going in your mouth, without anesthesia. Add a loud, unexpected bang every few seconds . . . I'd lose my mind.


Hopefully he'll continue to enjoy a calmer, less painful life! Glad he's feeling better.


Ruth and Gibbs

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