Friday, September 23, 2011

Big baby

 I had hoped to have some really great videos for you of Summit at his agility class last night. But of course, wouldn't you guess, the moment I stepped out of the car I heard "pop, pop pop, pop... POP!" in the distance. I brought Summit out talking to him happily (trying to cover the sound of gunfire) and walked him all the way to the entrance of the ring (about 15 metres) feeding him hot dog slices before he noticed and started freaking out. My boyfriend didn't get any video of Summit and what he does when he hears guns, which probably would have been interesting for those of you at home to see what exactly I'm dealing with. I gave him some Rescue Remedy. I will say that I think it did take the edge off him. He did shut down on me but not as much as I think he usually does. He wouldn't take hot dogs from me but if I shoved him in his cheek he was actually swallowing them. Last week he got to a point where he wasn't and they were just accumulating in his cheek. I also managed to get him up and over some easy equipment like jumps, a small table (couldn't get him to jump up on the normal sized one, but he did the lower one for the little dogs) and a straight tunnel. I tried to keep him moving most of the time so he couldn't focus on the noise and freak out.

It is very frustrating. Beyond frustrating. As a vet student I have neither money nor time. It's a sacrifice in respect to both in order to get myself and my dog out to agility class. And to have it completely ruined by someone out shooting a gun is utterly frustrating. We will have to do a private lesson sometime. We can't do it this weekend because our club is holding an agility trial (but we will probably stop by and see what a trial is all about) and for the next 3 weeks my rotation is basically 7:30AM-7:30PM every day. So hopefully next weekend we can get down for a makeup class.

I had been hopeful that Summit was sort of over this gun fear. On Monday when we arrived home from our morning walk there were roofers working on the house across the street. As we were coming down the street they started using the nail gun. It does sound JUST like a gun. Summit flipped out. He thought it was a gun. I walked him around the corner and made him stop so that the roofers were in view. Pretty soon he figured out that they were the ones making all the noise and he relaxed. He greedily ate hot dog. Then I took him across the street to stand in the front yard of the house next door and he continued to eat hot dog and not care. For the next two days the roofers were out there using their nail gun and Summit could have cared less. It almost makes me wonder if what is so scary about guns and fireworks to him is that he doesn't know what it is. If I were to take him to see a person shooting a gun... I wonder if it would seem less scary to him. My agility instructor breeds and trains Labs. In addition to agility she also does field work with them, so she has offered that the next time they take a younger dog out with just the starter pistol that we are welcome to come along.

Interestingly, Summit does not appear to be afraid of the sound of either gun fire or fireworks while in the house. My plan had been to play him sounds of guns and fireworks on my computer starting quiet and working my way up louder and louder. But the other night my boyfriend was watching a gun show and Summit had absolutely ZERO reaction to it even though it was louder than we normally even hear guns outside. I think I will have to take him out in the backyard and play videos for him out there instead. I'm not sure if it is because he is inside at home or if the sounds from the computer/tv are not the same.

This sound phobia has been extremely frustrating. I'm hoping with lots of work and patience though that I will see less of this...

And more of this...

But that's unlikely as this photo is of the one and only time we have seen Summit "roach" in the 11 months that we have had him.


Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

:-( I feel ya! Good luck.

Although, not the same phobia, Reagan's phobia to engines and motors has been controlled with BuSpar. I have no idea if it would work with this kind of noise or your boy, but its been a miracle for us.

jet said...

hm, do you have any backyard space (or even a big space indoors)? you can easily set up some jumps to train him on... I used broom handles supported by two chairs. You can also use coffee tables (with some kind of protection on them from claws) for table work, and work on targetting an stuff like that at home.

I don't want to sound negative but I'd really be careful about pushing him with the gunshots at agility. I am currently dealing with a noise-phobic dog of my own - he is 5 now and his (percussive) noise phobia started a couple of years ago. It has now deteriorated to the point where he can react and wig out to bangs that I don't even hear. Unfortunately he isn't a greyhound so he doesn't turn into a statue, he pulls and pulls on the leash until we get home.

He is only my second dog and I wish I knew what I know now a couple of years ago, I would have been more careful about being caught on walks when fireworks happen and stuff like that.

All dogs are different, and he sounds like he's improved a tiny bit, but if he regresses to freezing up the whole time and not taking treats then I wouldn't push it.

Marcia said...

I had a husky for ten years and she always had a phobia of fireworks no matter what. I didn't realize it until I had her outside at a park on Canada Day. She climbed into a bush and sat there through the whole demonstration shaking while I stood holding her leash, looking like a tool. I learned my lesson.

Fortunately, my grey Licorice doesn't have any sound phobias... Although he's never been exposed to gun fire so who knows...he just might.

Good luck!