About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Relax Max

Relax, Max
Your nerves are just like jumpin' jacks, Max
Your heart is thumpin' with a crazy sound
Hear it pound
Bumpin', bumpin', bumpin'
Jumpin' up and down
Stay cool, Max
Just take it easy
That's the rule, Max
The evenin' hasn't even started yet
So, my pet
Control yourself, control yourself
Don't get upset
Don't think I'm cold if I say you're too bold
I've been fooled by that moon up above
I want your kiss just as you want my kiss
But a kiss is no kiss without love
Ah, come on, relax, Max
Your nerves are kinda bad there, boy
Hold it
Down, boy
Take it easy, boy
Relax yourself
The evening's young yet
Mmm, come on and relax, Max
Relax yourself
~ Dinah Washington (Ruth Lee Jones)

Max is this friends dog, a Pekingese Shih Tzu mix. I have known max for 11 years, he is a grand old man, in doggy years, he is as old as my old man who is 77.

Max is one of the loveliest dogs I have met.

Max is very quiet, I have heard him bark only once and that was nearly 8 years ago when he was still a young boy.

He is very patient with kids and I have seen kids pull his hair, draw on him, sit on him and he just takes it all.

He is a little fussy in his eating habits but that is mainly because he gets not very good food (Al E is among the lucky ones as we cook for him his meals - but even that started recently).

Max likes to have his belly rubbed and all these years he has been spoilt with chocolates and cakes (which the owners have now restricted as they have found out it is not good for him).

He was a very active boy in his younger days but after an accident and operation, he has slowed down and is more careful with his moves.

Max has been this pet of mine that is not mine, similar to Bob and Rusty in US. Max belongs to a friend whom I do visit often enough to have seen Max grow up. Well, I have seen my friends two boys grow up from babies to adulthood as well.

When I was less aware of pets and did not have a pet on my own, I always thought Max was a bit of a wuss, a scaredy cat. You see, poor Max is really afraid of thunder and loud noises like thunder i.e. firecrackers.

He is so scared. He will go under a little space under a sofa and now the little space under the TV cabinet way before a thunderstorm starts and will remain there hours after the last thunder cannot be heard. I guess his sense of feeling, intuition and hearing still hears the thunder.

I have come to learn that this is quite a common issue amongst pets - not just dogs but even other animals. I am lucky that Al E is not afraid of it and have not had to deal with it. He will stand at the door and look at the thunder and wish for it to stop only so that he can go for his walks.

Max, as long as I know has had this issue. And there are many ways to help a pet who has this fear. Hiding under the cabinet is not such a bad thing after all, according to the experts. And of course reassuring your pet.

As I am not big expert in this matter, I attach some other articles below to help you if your pet is having some anxiety over thunder and other loud noises.
The article below from PAWs US describes more about this problem that Max has.

While a good "kraack" or "boom" may have been good while Batman was taking down the Joker, such startling sounds are no joke for your dog. Firecrackers, thunder and other loud, out-of-nowhere sounds often leave dogs frightened and wanting to flee to a safer place. These types of fears may develop even though your dog has had no traumatic experiences associated with the sound. The good news is that many fear-related problems can be successfully resolved. If left untreated, however, your dog's fearful behavior will probably get worse.

The most common behavior problems associated with fear of loud noises are destruction and escaping. When your dog becomes frightened, he tries to reduce his fear. He may try to escape to a place where the sounds of thunder or firecrackers are less intense. If he feels less afraid by leaving the yard or going into a certain room or area of the house, then the escape or destructive behavior is reinforced because it successfully lessens his fear. For some dogs, just the activity or physical exertion associated with one of these behaviors may be an outlet for their anxiety. Unfortunately, escape and/or destructive behavior can be a problem for you and could also result in physical injury to your dog.

Your dog may also begin to associate a particular startling noise with other things in her environment, and she may grow afraid of these other things because she associates them with the loud noise that frightens her. For example, dogs who are afraid of thunder may later become afraid of the wind, dark clouds, and flashes of light that often precede the sound of thunder. Dogs who do not like the sound of firecrackers may become fearful of the children who have the firecrackers or may become afraid to go in the backyard, if that's where they usually hear the noise.

Another article that may help if your dog has this fear of thunder or even fireworks is by Patty Khuly, for USA TODAY below.

It's the same thing every year. The summer storms ... they stress our dogs unduly. We vets call it "storm phobia." You call it your worst nightmare. (The howling, the hiding, the destruction!)

Either way, we all want the same thing: a calmer dog that doesn't have to suffer the psychological damage done by booming thunder, wicked lightning and plummeting barometric pressures.

And it's not just their psyche (and ours!) at risk. We all know that dogs are capable of doing serious damage to themselves during stormy times of the year. Fractured claws, lacerations, broken teeth and bruises are but a few consequences.

So how do you handle thunderstorm phobia? Here are my suggestions:

•Handle it early on in your dog's life.
Does your dog merely quake and quiver under the bed when it storms outside? Just because he doesn't absolutely freak doesn't mean he's not suffering. Since storm phobia is considered a progressive behavioral disease, signs like this should not be ignored. Each successive thunderstorm season is likely to bring out ever-worsening signs of fear. It's time to take action — NOW.
•Don't heed advice to let her "sweat it out" or not to "baby" her.
I've heard many pet owners explain that they don't offer any consolation to their pets because they don't want to reinforce the "negative behavior" brought on by a thunderstorm. But a severe thunderstorm is no time to tell your dog to "buck up and get strong." Fears like this are irrational (after all, she's safe indoors). Your dog won't get it when you punish her for freaking out. Indeed, it'll likely make her anxiety worse. Providing a positive or distracting stimulus is more likely to calm her down.
•Offer treats, cuddling and other good stuff when storms happen.
This method is best employed before the phobia sets in –– as pups. Associating loud booms with treats is never a bad thing, right?
•Let him hide — in a crate.
Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs. Getting them used to a crate as pups has a tremendous influence on how comfortable they are when things scare them. Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear. Another approach to try, whether he's a pup or not:
•Get him away from the noise, and compete with it.
Creating a comfy place (for the crate or elsewhere) in a room that's enclosed (like a closet or bathroom) may help a great deal. Adding in a loud radio or white noise machine can help, too. Or how about soothing, dog-calming music?
•Counter the effects of electromagnetism.
Though it may sound like voodoo, your dog can also become sensitized to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. One great way to shield your dog from these potentially fear-provoking waves is to cover her crate with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Another method involves clothing her in a commercially available "Storm Defender" cape that does the same work. If she hides under the bed, consider slipping a layer of aluminum foil between the box-spring and mattress.
•Desensitize him.
Sometimes it's possible to allay the fears by using thunderstorm sound CDs when it's not raging outside. Play it at a low volume while plying him with positive stimuli (like treats and pettings). Increase the volume all the while, getting to those uncomfortable booming sounds over a period of weeks. It works well for some.
•Ask your veterinarian about drugs.
Sure, there's nothing so unsavory as the need for drugs to relieve dogs of their fears, but recognize that some fears will not be amenable to any of these other ministrations without drugs. If that's the case, talk to your vet about it –– please. There are plenty of new approaches to drugs that don't result in a zonked-out dog, so please ask!
•Natural therapies can work.
For severe sufferers, there's no doubt it'll be hard to ask a simple flower essence to do all the heavy lifting, but for milder cases, Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy), lavender oil (in a diffuser is best) and/or "Dog Appeasing Pheromone" (marketed as D.A.P. in a diffuser, spray or collar) can help.
•Consider seeing a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.
If nothing else works, your dog should not have to suffer. Seek out the advice of your veterinarian, and, if you've gone as far as you can with him/her, consider someone with unique training in these areas –– perhaps a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

I hope the articles above has helped if your pet have a fear of loud noises like thunder and firecrackers like Max does. Maybe they can join Max under the little space below the TV cabinet and keep him company next time there is a big thunderstorm outside.

Take care and be well.


One Woman's Thoughts said...

My little yorkie used to be so terrified of storms and the fireworks on the 4th of July. I used to wrap him in a blanket and hold him and talk to him. I think that was the part that we both really liked.

Nice post.

Sneha said...

wow thanks Nil....I have 4 dogs at home and they all go crazy when thunderstrom strikes.. and more to that during Diwali crackers also make then crazy. Diwali time is very hard time to handle them.

Ser said...

Sneha, I recommend you get this CD for your dogs. It works wonderfully for thunder and lightning issues too. It is called MUSIC WELLNESS FOR PETS (VOLUME 1)

p.s. Though we do not have problems associated with thunder and fire crackers with our little dog, some of our friends do and this CD has have worked wonders. You can get this CD from Rock Corner (either in Bangsar Village 1 or in the Gardens).