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Fireworks, Thunder, and Gun Shots

Since it is July 4 I felt this article needed to be written. Fireworks, thunder, and gun shots wreck havoc on our pets. Whether it be a dog or whatever this advice is good for mostly all pets that relate to human beings. The days of having our pets becoming petrified because of loud obtrusive noises are gone. We can fix it. The days of our pets running under beds, into closets, going into a corner and shaking, are going to be a things of the past.

In order to be able to start on this reparation project there are a couple of items needed: a .22 or .32 caliber starter pistol, or a .22, .25, or .32 caliber revolver or automatic. We will need a helper and a set of walkie-talkies that can be voice actuated versus you pushing a button or signaling with your hands. We need voice actuated or at least one that you can leave on so the helper can hear you. We can't use hand signals because we have found that the animals key on the hand signal and the surprise of our plans are lost. Now for the practicum and how to begin to solve this devastating problem.

You and your animal go to a large field. The helper is not needed at this point. When you arrive at this field no commands are to be given. The animal is on a lead and he is to be occupied solely with you praising, petting, and feeding small bits of choice morsels of food. The sizes of the morsels should be small enough to keep the pet occupied yet not make him full. After the animal is feeling comfortable in his surroundings and with the new found enjoyments leave the area with your pet. I would do this at least three times so that the animal recognizes the area upon arrival as a sanctuary and a fun place to be. Now it is time to introduce the helper.

Have the helper go with you to the spot and upon arriving at that spot have the helper walk at least 200 yards away and have the helper just stand in that spot. Then after the animal has seen the helper leave and has gotten used to his presence, you of course are continuing with the above praising, petting, and food dispersal's. When the animal has done this about three times on three different occasions it is now time to started the desensitization of the offending noises. I cannot impress upon you to make sure that the time of day, where you and your pet are positioned, where the helper is positioned, the path that the helper has taken to his position, everything must be duplicated to the letter. We must start out and continue with the same characteristics because deviation will confound what we are doing and we will fail. If we fail so does our help for our pets.

Now the day of truth comes. You have done everything the same. You are in the proper position your helper is also at-the-ready in his position (at least 200 yards away). Both walkie-talkies are on but the helper has the key in his pocket that the animal has not seen. The helper has in his pocket a .22 or .32 caliber starter pistol, a .22, .25, .32 pistol or automatic. The helper in his position has the weapon or starter pistol at-the-ready and aimed at the ground. We have found that when the weapon or starter pistol is away dramatically from the body the animal will key on that gesture and will know when the next round will be fired and it destroys the plan. Your job is to, like you have done many times before, is to keep the animal occupied with either food, praise, petting, or all three. When the animal is immersed in his pleasure you tell the helper to let off a round. Right before, during, and after the round has been shot you have increase the praise, food, and petting ten fold. Even if the animal notices the shot you continue with your job. When the animal's mind has settled down from the shot you then can level off the praise, etc. A second round must be fired in about 15 minutes or so. You continue with what you have done before and particularly paying special attention to the dog's reaction.

Remember no shots are to be fired until you give the word and they must be fired immediately when you give that word. One word, one shot. You now should have an idea on the animals reaction to the shots. If your animal was able to deal with the shots and remain relatively calm with your help, the session has ended. The next time, in a couple of days, the same scenario will be repeated except the helper will have moved in about ten yards closer. If the animal shows serious distress the helper will, upon the next session, will have moved back, ten to twenty yards (or back farther until the dog shows no bad reaction and that distance will be baseline). The idea here is to be able to get the helper within twenty-five yards of the animal without showing distress on the animal's part. Only two shots are fired every session and the sessions are never to be rushed.

When you are home if there is fireworks, thunder, or gun shots the same procedure should be enacted immediately until the animal can calm down. Remember, in the training procedures, never use other weapons except the mentioned weapons, not fireworks or fused detonations. They cannot be timed like the accuracy of a trigger. Without that accuracy we will not succeed.

You will know that you have succeeded in this phase when upon the animal hearing the shots at 25 yards away actually welcomes the noise because he is not scared and is happy with the situation. Next step to insure that the animal will never ever again be afraid of loud thunderous noises. We are going to incorporate a .410 or 20 gauge shotgun in place of the automatic, revolver, or starter pistol.

Same procedures are followed the helper must be a minimum of 200 yards away. The silhouette of the shotgun in the distance, nor the helper walking to the assigned spot must never show the shotgun to the animal. Have the shotgun hugged to the helpers leg so it does not show. When the weapon is discharged, upon your word, the weapon must be shot into the ground. The helper can turn his back on the animal and shoot at the ground (not at his foot or leg) whereby the animal does not see the weapon or its silhouette. Same procedures are followed as for the distancing previously. But with this weaponry do not get any closer than 75 yards.

The last phase to be initiated is using a 12 gauge shotgun, #9 shot or less, and this will be substituted for the higher gauge shotgun. A 12 gauge shotgun reports at about 178 decibels depending on the load so this phase will also not get any closer than 75 yards. Words of encouragement, I have never had a failure with this system. Some animals have taken up to a year to complete the desensitization program but I have never had a failure. All it takes is some time, patience and understanding. What you are observing and for your rewards you can have an animal that will be noise troubled free. Pretty good deal.

Written by Neal Seaman

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