Most locals know that every couple of years the Air Show hits the town and this means we are invaded by noisy bomber planes, acrobatic planes, jet planes, helicopters and more; and they are super noisy. Whilst the planes will be based at Avalon Airport, they do come over the RAAF base in Point Cook as they strut their stuff. There will also be planes that travel faster than the speed of sound so there will a lot of sonic booming going on and for some dogs this can resemble thunder. You will see the Roulettes which is a group of planes doing their acrobatic stunts and there will be giant planes like the Hercules floating by.
If you are new to the area or have just recently gotten a dog, then this might be the very first time you experience this so I thought I better prepare you and your dog so this weekend goes as smoothly as possible.
Dogs habituate to certain noises likes traffic, trains and buses and even crowds of people and this occurs because the occurrence is rather regular. But when we get these events that occur every few years, it means our dogs have had very little time to get used to it and just as they might be there, the show it over!
What does this mean for your dog? Well to the new babies who are still learning about the world and its noises, it can be quite terrifying, for newly adopted dogs it can be rather unnerving and for dogs who suffer from anxiety, it can be debilitating. It is only short lived so it will be a matter of watching the dogs over a couple of days and setting up some strategies that can help them get by until it is all over.
So here are some tips on how to help your dogs cope with this weekend.
- Keep your dog inside over the weekend so they cannot see the giant planes or hear the loud noises
- Go out for a long walk in another area where the planes will not be seen or heard
- Occupy your dog with chew toys like Kongs or raw meaty bones during the day
- Play background music inside the house or even a radio outside to muffle the sound a little
- Make no big deal of the planes as they pass, try not to draw even more attention towards them
- Go outside and do some training to keep them busy and teach them noisy planes create fun games
- Consider pheromone diffusers or collars such as Adaptil which have calming properties. These can be purchased from your local vets
- If your dog already suffers from thunderphobia or noise phobias, speak to your vet about strategies and even medication that might make the experience less scary.
What signs should you be looking for that says your dog is scared?
- Hiding in the yard or looking for somewhere to hide
- Frantic behaviour, pacing and being in an agitated state
- Trembling or the legs or body
- Drooling excessively
- Dilated pupils
- Barking while looking up in the air
- Cowering, freezing up and actually looking scared
- Refusing to go outside
- Refusing to eat or drink
- Refusing to go out to toilet.
What do you do if your dog does become scared?
- Settle the dog down in a quiet space like inside the house in a darker room
- Then follow the steps above to occupy it while the show goes on outside
- Don’t yell at the dog as this will only frighten it even more as your dog will see that YOU are not coping!
- Try to encourage your dog to seek out a quiet dark place on its own and self soothe
- If all those attempts fail, then you may need to pack a bag for you and your dog and head over to a friend on the other side of town and hang there until it is all over.
What if you want to go to the Air Show and nobody will be home?
If your dog is new to this noisy experience or is an anxious dog then I suggest the dog is kept inside while you are out, popped in a room where you know it cannot get up to mischief or maybe looked after by a friend who does not live in this area. At least you will have peace of mind that it isn’t a quivering mess in the yard somewhere or desperately trying to escape while you are out enjoying the show.
One last tip, ensure you have current details on your microchip file just in case your dog does escape and do a runner. The last thing you want it a missing dog with incorrect details on record.
Best of luck everyone, here comes the Air Show 2017!