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How To End The Fear Of Fireworks For Your Dog

By Edited May 31, 2015 1 2

Dogs And Fireworks

Having been a dog lover all my life, I've had many different breeds, shapes and sizes. The one thing in common with almost each and every one of them was that they were afraid of fireworks.

Well, it's that time of year again and if you have a dog who spends it's time in the closet shaking or even in the tub (yes they will do that) during the fireworks celebration, then you know what I am talking about.

Bella

My otherwise confident 80# fur baby  used to suddenly turn into a quivering bowl of jello that tried with all her might to crawl up under my skin and if she'd had her way, she would've spent the entire holiday underneath me in the recliner.  

Bella

Things you can do to keep your dog calm during fireworks

One of the best things you can do is plan ahead.

A dog can be cured of this fear, but it takes some time and patience. If you begin a month or two ahead of time, try using a desensitizing cd. These cd's are created using progressive sound effects and psycho acoustically designed music.

When used with positive reinforcement, they can help calm your pet and they will learn to associate positive feelings rather than fear, with loud noises. This will not work with all dogs and must be done in the proper way or it can cause the opposite of the desired outcome where your pet becomes even more afraid of fireworks.[1]

Fireworks

Always begin with the lowest version of the sound and reaffirm your dogs good and accepting behaviour with positive feedback. As the dog becomes more comfortable with the sound, move it up a level. Never start out at a normal level and just leave the dog in the room with a cd playing, you may just send the dog over the edge! It takes time, patience and baby steps.

Canine Noise Phobia Series / Fireworks
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What if you don't have several months to work on this?

So the 4th of July is right around the corner, now what?

Here are some tips to make the 4th of July holiday more pleasant for you and your pet. 

  • Allow your dog to get plenty of exercise before any of the fireworks start. Take him or her for a long walk to drain their energy. If a dog is exhausted, it is very hard for them to concentrate on the noise.[2]
  • Keep drapes and curtains closed to help keep out any sudden bursts of light.
  • Turn on a TV or Stereo to help lessen the noise from outside.
  • If you are able to be at home with them, try keeping them distracted with playing or even use this time to work on some training. Make sure you have plenty of small treats to reward them for good behavior. (Cheerios make a great tiny treats when training and they are cost effective.)

 

Even more ways to distract your dog from fireworks

You can also distract them with toys such as a Kong.

Kong toys are used to make a dog work for their food as they would in the wild. Dogs love this 
as it keeps them busy and distracted from things that might otherwise make them anxious.

You can also use a DAP spray. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone). Many people have had great 
success with these sprays, putting it on the dogs bed, or even on a bandanna for the dog. 
The DAP spray tends to calm and relax the dog. There are also DAP collars on the market as 
well as room diffusers.

If your dog has a crate, I also recommend draping a light weight blanket or cover over the 
crate from side to side, leaving the front and rear uncovered. I do not lock my dogs in their crates during storms or fireworks but have covered their crates in this manner and that seems to give them more of a sense of security. Their crates are their beds as well so that is already known to them as a "safe" place.

KONG Extreme Dog Toy, Large, Black
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Distract your dog and keep them busy working for their food. Try a Kong toy filled with their favorite tidbits. It will keep their focus on what they are doing, provide a positive reinforcement during the fireworks.

Things to remember

Keep in mind that your dog picks up on your emotions. If you are anxious for them, they will be anxious too. Keep yourself in a calm soothing state and that will help your dog as well. Do not show your dog affection when they are in an anxious state. All this does is to reaffirm to the dog that they are behaving correctly when they're not. Instead, stay calm and try some of the distraction methods listed above.[2]

Remember that if you must go outside during fireworks with your dog, keep your dog on a
leash, even if you have a fenced in yard. The day after the 4th of July is a very busy day at
shelters around the country with dog owners looking for their beloved pet who escaped out of
fear of the fireworks the night before. Always make sure that your dog had some sort of
identification whether it be tags or microchip. Never underestimate what a scared dog
will do. Many times their instinct is to run away from the noise and they have been known to break through glass windows, window screens and doors and chew their way out of crates and
rooms.

Keep your fur baby safe this 4th of July and make it a happy holiday for everyone.

Sweaters and vests used to calm your dog from anxiety

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Comments

Jul 10, 2014 12:14am
probertson85
Thanks for the tips Janey! My dog Jiffy is scared of loud noises especially Thunder noises. I agree that repetitive training and positive reinforcement is the best way to cure most dogs of fear! Great article thumbs up!
Jul 10, 2014 7:06am
janeybird
Thank you for reading and commenting!
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Bibliography

  1. ASPCA "Fear of Noises." ASPCA Pet Care. 1/07/2014 <Web >
  2. Cesar Milan "Cesar Answers Toughest Dog Problem Questions." Cesar's Way. 1/07/2014 <Web >

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