Most people have heard of gun shy dogs. It’s really a misnomer, because they aren’t afraid of guns as such. They’re afraid of any loud noises that resemble a gun being shot. This includes vehicles backfiring, fireworks, thunderstorms and, of course, gunfire.
Many gun shy dogs have been seriously injured and even killed when fireworks displays have scared them. Their first instinct is to run and, unfortunately, that often means running into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Dog owners with gun shy dogs have to be watchful, especially in summer, when there often are loud noises that come out of the blue. Apart from running into harms way, gun shy dogs can be extremely destructive.
They climb on and destroy furniture, they scratch in corners, at walls and doors. They dig under fences in a desperate attempt to escape. Some dogs have severely injured themselves jumping through glass windows in fear.
Dog owners who inadvertently leave a door or gate open will soon discover that their beloved dogs have disappeared. If you’re lucky, your dog will return when the fear and the perceived danger has stopped.
Here are six safety tips you can use to protect your gun shy dog.
Dog Safety Tip #1. Travel safety
If your gun shy dog travels with you, be aware of areas where there might be loud noises, such as while driving past road construction. The workers often use dynamite and heavy machinery that can scare your dog. Keep your car windows rolled up.
Dog Safety Tip #2. Keep an ID on your dog
A gun shy dog should always wear a secure collar with an ID tag attached that contains the dog’s name and dog owner’s phone number, and a current rabies tag.
Be sure to include any special information that finders might need to know. For instance, if he requires medication (ie: diabetes, thyroid, epilepsy), just in case you don’t get him back before his next dose. If he does go into a health situation, the finder won’t have to worry that he might have rabies or other dangerous disease. Besides, the person will know to get treatment for your dog.
Dog Safety Tip #3. Find a safe place for your gun shy dog
Dogs will seek shelter where they can hide, often somewhere tight and dark such as under a table or in a cave. You can ease his distress by making a spot for him in a closet or under the bed where he can head when he becomes afraid. Get him used to that area prior to such an emergency. Put a familiar blanket on the floor and include a favorite toy to help distract him from the noise. A radio will help.
Dog Safety Tip #4. Seek medical advice
Some gun shy dogs are absolutely terrified and anxious during fireworks displays and thunder storms. Ask your vet if he can prescribe a sedative you can keep on hand for such events.
Dog Safety Tip #5.
Get training for your gun shy dog. Dog trainers can advise you on how to desensitize your pet to those alarming loud noises. It will take some time, but it can be done.
Dog Safety Tip #6: Watch your own reaction
The first instinct of many dog owners is to hold their trembling dog and talk sweetly to try to calm him. This is one of the worst things you can do because it confirms his beliefs that something is wrong.
The best approach is to talk normally to your dog, reassure him by telling him “it’s okay, relax”, and pet him normally. Don’t make a big fuss. Laughing is a good response because it’s the opposite of what he’s experiencing and sends the message that there really is nothing to fear.
Distraction is extremely effective. Call his name when he’s listening intently to the noise. Offer his squeaky toy. Play with him while constantly talking to keep his ears busy.
With these six dog safety tips, dog owners can alleviate their pet’s fears and keep them safe from harm.
Preparation is important. Have a leash handy for when things get too noisy. Have sedatives on hand. Make sure all the doors, windows and gates are secured. Close your car windows. Get your dog used to a safe hideout in your home where he can feel protected.
Dog safety is of prime importance for any dog owner with a gun shy dog.