Some dogs have a complete ‘meltdown’ when they hear fireworks- trembling, drooling, trying to escape out the window, hide under the bed….anything to escape the loud bangs of what we know as fireworks! It’s a really stressful time for both dogs and owners. Whenever dogs feel challenged/threatened they go into Survival mode, reacting to a challenge with either Fight, Flight, Avoidance or Submission. Your dog will exhibit one or more of these if they feel threatened by firework noises. So what can you do to make the experience as stress free as possible for your dog?
1. In the lead up to fireworks you can purchase various ‘noise/firework’ audio downloads which if played at a low level on a daily basis can help desensitise your dog to the sound before the traumatic event actually happens. It is a way of getting your dog used to the various noises, if you start by playing it at a low level in your house where your dog can hear it but not to the point of being scared of it. Then gradually over time as your dog gets used to the noise you can turn the volume up.
2. Exercise your dog for at least 45 mins 2 x day, particularly on the day where you know there will be a fireworks event nearby. This will ensure that your dog is in a more rested physical and mental state before any fireworks begin.
3. ‘If you worry, your dog worries!’ Your dog needs calm, confident energy around them when they are feeling stressed to lead them through their challenge. They don’t need you panicking aswell!
4. Try giving ‘Bach Flower Rescue Remedy’ which calms your dog naturally
5. Do not shut your dog outside during fireworks thinking that this will help them ‘get through it’
6. Do not nurture your dog’s fear by talking to them, comforting them or giving them treats (they will be so ‘shut down’ that they won’t eat anything anyway!). Rewarding them with affection or food will only reinforce your dog’s fearful state of mind, making them worse.
7. Do not let your dog hide. You can prevent this by being in one room with them and/or putting a house lead on your dog so that you can bring them out of any hiding place they bolt to.
8. Have the tv/radio on fairly loudly to help mask any outside noise.