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Hollybarn Dog & Puppy Training Blog

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What not to Feed Dogs !!
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Paws for Health at Homeland Westport 25th July
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Why Your Vet Won't Give You Credit
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Thought I'd share this !!

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Preparing Dogs for Fireworks, Bangers, Halloween & Bonfire Night
by Hollybarn on 

Preparing Dogs for Fireworks, Bangers, Halloween & Bonfire Night!!


Why am I talking about this in September?! Well, making your dog calm

during bonfire night and fireworks right the way through to New Year

takes preparation! There is a lot you can do in the

run up to the firework season, as well as measures you can take at the time.

I’m going to concentrate on dogs, as fear of fireworks is so common in this species. All animals have the potential to be afraid of strange noises and lights though, so make sure you cover up rabbit hutches and keep cats indoors on bonfire night and any other night where fireworks are being set off locally.

Advanced preparation
Dogs are often naturally wary of the bangs and flashes of fireworks, but like most behavioural problems, this is something we can train out of them. Unfortunately, some owners actually reinforce dogs’ fear by comforting them. Whilst this seems the obvious thing to do, the dog sees you comforting him as justifying his fear, and therefore makes him even more fearful. So what can you do to actually help?

You can buy CDs of firework noises online, which you can use to help your dog slowly get use to the noise. “Sounds Scary” is one brand, but others are available. If your dog is likely to be scared come firework season, buy a CD and start playing it now. Start playing it very quietly, below the level at which you can hear it, perhaps for half an hour a day, making sure your dog is not afraid. Increase the volume every now and then, each time checking that your dog is still ok with it. If he is shaking or shows any signs of fear, don’t play the CD for a couple of days and start off more quietly again. Eventually, your dog should become accustomed to hearing it at quite a high level, and so won’t worry when the real things come along.

Starting a couple of weeks before, install an Adaptil ® diffuser in the home, close to where your dog spends most of his time. This device looks like an air freshener and produces a smell that is like a chemical that your dog’s mother used to calm her puppies. This has been shown to calm older dogs too and the devices are available online or from your vet. You can now also get an Adaptil ® collar that releases the same chemicals.  Whichever device you use, it will work best if you leave it on 24 hours a day, preferably from a couple of weeks before any noise occurs. However, it still may be helpful even if you don’t get it until the problem starts. I would not normally promote a specific brand, but I am not aware of any similar product other than Adaptil ® that has been shown to work.

On the night
Sometimes people make no preparation, and sometimes despite all of your hard work, your dog may still be a little scared on bonfire night. But don’t worry; there are still things you can do.

Firstly, do not take your dog for a walk at night. Walk him in the morning and again early evening if possible, before it gets dark.  Make sure you take him out for toileting just before it gets dark so he is comfortable later on. Keep him on a lead, in case fireworks start early, to prevent him from bolting.

Once the evening comes, let your dog stay in his favourite place, be that in the kitchen, in your bedroom, or beside you in the living room.  Then, make this place as protective as possible. Draw the curtains and blinds, whatever it takes to prevent light from flashes entering the room. Shut the windows, and put the television or stereo on loudly to mask any bangs. Plug in an Adaptil ® Diffuser or have him wear an Adaptil ® collar (mentioned above). Give him a carbohydrate-rich evening meal such as mashed potato, pasta or rice to make him feel sleepy (it works in dogs just as it does with us!).  Leave him with chew and toys in case chewing/playing with these helps to keep him calm.

If he wants to hide behind the sofa, let him, but whatever you do don’t give him special attention, which could reinforce his fear. Also do not get angry with him for getting stressed – this will only make him worse, and it is not his fault! Reward him when he is calm with attention, games and treats. Make sure you and anyone else in the house does not react to any of the fireworks and appear happy and relaxed.

If your dog is still scared, it might be worth trying earplugs. Pet earplugs are available from pet shops or online. In an emergency you could make your own from damp wrung-out cotton wool but be very careful not to push them too deep to avoid damaging the sensitive ear canal.

Vets try not to sedate dogs if at all possible, but if despite all your efforts your dog is still afraid, sometimes drugs are necessary.  Make sure you book an appointment with your vet well in advance, as he is likely to be busy on call on bonfire night, and you want to avoid an out of hours fee! Your vet will need to examine your dog and review his medical history to be sure there are no health reasons meaning sedative drugs would be unsafe. Most veterinary behaviourists now prefer drugs like diazepam, which actually calms your dog down, as opposed to acepromazine (ACP), which is thought simply to mask your dog’s fearfulness.

If your dog has a stressful fireworks season this year, make sure you put in more preparation next year to prevent it happening again. If the advice above does not work, your vet or vet nurse should be able to recommend a good behaviourist you can see locally for more individual behavioural advice.


Information extracted from Pet Webinars Newsletter Issue 9 – Anthony Chadwick

Pet Webinars 4th Floor, 3TC House, 16 Crosby Road North, Liverpool, Liverpool L22 0NY United Kingdom +44 1513 240580,

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Scruffs Dog Show - Abbey Pattern Family Fun Day
by Hollybarn on 

Why not join us for the Scruffs Dog Show at The Abbey Pattern Fun Day on Sunday 1st September 2013. Emma is Judging the show this year and registration starts @ 2.00PM.

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The Yellow Dog Project
by Hollybarn on 

The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated.

Yellow Dog - Some dogs need space

If you see a dog with a YELLOW ribbon, bandanna or similar on the leash or on the dog, this is a dog which needs some space. Please, do not approach this dog or its people with your dog. They are indicating that their dog cannot be close to other dogs. How close is too close? Only the dog or his people know, so maintain distance and give them time to move out of your way.

There are many reasons why a dog may need space:

  • Maybe it has health issues
  • It may be a rescue dog being rehabilitated. The world can be a very scary place for these dogs.
  • It may have had a bad experience with another dog or is just not like the kind of friendly dogs which always want to say “Hi!”
  • A bitch may be in heat
  • The dog may be in training
  • It may be very old and arthritic
  • It may be very nervous or shy and other dogs cause it stress

In short, a yellow marker on a dog means it needs some space.  

Those of us who own these dogs appreciate your help and respect.

Thank you!

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Pet Show and Family Fun Day in Aid of Mayo SPCA
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Hollybarn Dog Training are proud to be associated & working with the Mayo SPCA
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One to One Dog & Puppy Training & Behaviour Sessions

Studies have shown that owners who train a new or re-homed dog or puppy are more likely to bond with and more importantly want to keep and enjoy the new family member rather than owners who do no training with their new arrival at all.

With this in mind we offer a €10 discount to all Mayo SPCA members and new and existing re-homed dog and puppy owners for a One to One training or behaviour session in your own home.

We cover the following and more: Toilet Training, Nutritional Advice, Sit / Stay / Lie etc, Walking on a Lead, Jumping on people & furniture, Excessive Barking, Aggressive Behaviour, Running Away / Recall, Chewing & Digging, Chasing Cars, Noise Phobia, Separation Anxiety, Socialisation and more.


We also offer a comprehensive Residential Training program for the more problematic dog or puppy. Call us or visit our web site for more details.


Dog Kennels & Boarding

with a Difference

Hollybarn Dog & Puppy Training are excited to be able to offer a much more personal approach to kennels and boarding for your dog or puppy.

While you are away enjoying your

holiday or short break, instead of your dog or puppy being boarded in a traditional kennels or boarding environment, they will stay with leading dog trainer, behaviourist and qualified Veterinary Nurse Emma Whelan in her own home in

Claremorris in rural Co Mayo and have a holiday all of their own.

Call 087 782 3957 or visit for more details.

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Blathanna Florists - Claremorris
by Hollybarn on 

For all your Christmas Flowers and Wreaths talk to our friends at Bláthanna Florists.

Bláthanna Florists

The Square


Co Mayo

(094) 93 62396

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Petworld Galway - Pet NCT Weekend
by Hollybarn on 

Why not come and see Emma at Petworld, Terryland, Galway on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September for the Pet NCT weekend.

Click for more details.

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Hollybarn Dog and Puppy Training Ireland – Professional One to One, veterinary recommended dog and puppy training courses, classes and sessions with a qualified dog trainer and behaviourist in your own home.

One to One Dog and Puppy Training in Your own Home.

We also offer dog kennelling and boarding with a difference and for the more problematic pet Residential Dog and Puppy training courses.

Residential Dog and Puppy Training Courses.

Kennels and Boarding with a Difference.

We provide one to one dog and puppy training and behaviour sessions, courses and classes throughout Ireland including Mayo, Galway, Clare, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Longford, Cavan, Westmeath, Offaly, Dublin, Greater Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.