What our clients say about Jo & Graham Milgrew

Dog Training & Behavioural Therapist

29th October 2013

Jo & Graham Milgrew dealt with: Other
Photo of D.A.'s dog

We did really thought we tried it all, but after a sleepless thundery night with the dog jumping on the bed scratching us etc I decided to e-mail Barkbusters. We'd never get rid of our dog, but we definitely needed help with his fear of noises.

Our Border Collie Darcy is now 11 years old and over recent years developed fears of fireworks and thunder. He always had a hate for noise, as when he was a pup he had to deal with refurbishing works a couple of houses down, which probably progressed over the years to this. I did try the famous noise desensitizing, but our dog seemed to know it was fake. I thought I was going mad, but Jo confirmed I wasn't. Being a Border Collie he is too smart for his own good in a way and indeed knows fully well it isn't real and therefore doesn't feel the same threat. Hence a cd becomes useless, instead we got the advice of using something else that triggers him to train him. Eg the hoover, the one thing all dogs appear to hate. He expressed his fear differently (barking, trying to nip it), but in the end it's fear.

We tried DAP before but didn't appear to get the result the product claimed we would have. Turns out the only thing we did right with it was plug it in. What is needed together with the product is someone that helps with how to use it all round to get that success. We created him a safe space as advised by Jo around the Dap diffuser, leave his treats in there every night and noticed this area is now his own chosen safe place. He retreats to this area when he hears a bang and we won't see him till he is ready to return. We put on his thunderjacket everyday as well and this also appears to have a calming effect on him. Again it is a tool that only works if you know how, which we now know. :) The dog needs to associate it as "wonderful" first, not as "I am terrified and now I am dealing with my owner as well trying to put something I don't know on me!"

T-touch was explained to us as well and this really calms him down. Similar to a massage or meditation with humans.

I don't think we're out of the woods yet (we were told honestly there are no quick fixes), but we are definitely on our way. Still not looking forward to bonfire night, but I think we will actually cope better than other years.

Day by day, step by step we'll get there.

Trainer note from Jo & Graham:
Border Collies are known for noise sensitivity. They are bred to have acute hearing and in some poor dogs this very acuteness can mean that any crash bang and wallop can send them into a frenzy of fear. Darcys' owners really had tried it all in their bid to help their dog. Much of the advice was correct - using CD's or other "noises" that trigger him so he can become de-sensitised, but that doesn't work with all dogs (Darcy being a case in point) and they really were at their wits end. Fortunately for Darcy he had owners who were willing to work on a whole program to provide a true safe place for him and the use of a range of calming exercises (where to go when frightened), techniques (calming touch) and products (a DAP diffuser and Thundershirt). They have had great results with all the recent Thunderstorms and are now fully prepared for fireworks (including already dealing with the early bangs we always get from keen firework buyers!) You can't stop a noise sensitive dog being noise sensitive, but you can prevent the extremes Darcys owners were dealing with (trying to dig his way through walls for example)and make Thunderstorms and Fireworks night a lot less frightening for a dog. It has been a real pleasure to get Darcy's owner updates and hear how well he is doing. It proves that even an older dog can have a much better quality of life when he has caring and thoughtful owners willing to help their noise sensitive dog.
D.A.
Billericay, Essex

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