We put a couple of our readers’ questions about their pet dogs in Hong Kong to DR PAULINE TAYLOR of Pets Central. Read on to find out about the best dog toys for your pooch and what to do for dogs with anxiety caused by noise.
“My dog struggles with noise in Hong Kong and is very scared. How can we deal with this?”
Noise “sensitivity” is a common problem in pet dogs worldwide. Around 40 to 50 percent of owners report changes in their dog’s behaviour in response to certain sounds.
Signs of a noise sensitivity, brought on by fear, vary from dog to dog and from situation to situation. They include signs relating to physiological changes (panting, salivating, gastro-enteritis, trembling) and changes to behaviour (yawning, licking lips, pacing, barking, restlessness).
The most common sounds involved include fireworks, gun shots, vacuum cleaners and hair driers, engine noises, storms, banging doors and loud voices. Dogs in Hong Kong introduced to these sounds at six months or under may have a better chance of coping with them. Noise sensitivity can be genetic, linked to a traumatic experience or learnt from another dog socially – for example, when a neighbour’s dog barks at a doorbell and your dog barks too. How we as owners respond to the problem may also contribute to its escalation over time.
Some pet dogs with anxiety around anticipated threats or dangers may even respond to a wide range of stimulating noises. In some cases, a noise “phobia” can develop. This is a severe fear response in your dog that’s out of proportion with the actual situation.
Sadly, there’s no one answer for all dogs and to give a specific answer would require more information on the actual dog, how it responds and the situations that bring on its “struggles”. However, most cases can be tackled using environmental management, behaviour modification and, when necessary, administering appropriate medications prescribed by a sympathetic and understanding vet.
“Which dog toys are best for my dog?”
This is a common question I get asked. Before you open your wallet, there are several things to consider as there are endless toy types, options and prices. The age, size and breed of your pet dog is relevant. So is whether the dog toys will be used inside or outside, and supervised or not.
A pup will chew more than a geriatric who may have difficulty or pain with a chew toy. Mini poodles simply can’t chew the same size of toy as a Labrador, although some may try. Likewise, a toy designed for a small breed may be a hazard for a large breed, in particular if it fits fully in a dog’s mouth. Small balls can become killing toys if they get stuck in a dog’s throat. Pups like to rip up toys, and the materials used to stuff them can become an intestinal foreign body as well as a dollar drain, so hard dog toys are better for pups.
Doggy play styles also differ and it’s beneficial to know if your dog is a tugger, chewer, hoarder, chaser or snuggler. Dogs in Hong Kong with anxiety triggered by boredom and separation can be partly relieved by giving the right toys at the right time. A toy stuffed with yummy food will do wonders to settle your pet when you leave home. Interactive toys like tug toys, meanwhile, are best kept for human-animal playtime when bonding occurs.
Toy durability, safety and mobility should also be considered, especially as choosing the right one makes for a happier dog.
About Dr Pauline Taylor (BVM&S MACVSc)
After graduating from Edinburgh University, Dr Taylor began practicing in Scotland, working with farm animals. She has since accrued over 30 years’ experience caring for animals in various places including the UK, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Pets Central operates four vet hospitals and one mobile clinic in Hong Kong.
2264 0298 | 2264 0398
firstname.lastname@example.org | pets-central.com
This article first appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.