Many dogs are afraid of fireworks, and noise phobia is fairly common in dogs. This phobia can include thunderstorms, bangs and fireworks. Dogs tend to find the loud, unpredictable noises and bright displays of light truly frightening. Even a seemingly confident dog can tremble at the unfamiliar sounds of fireworks, but there are a few things you can do to help your dog get through the festivities.
Help your dog get used to the sound of fireworks
Before Bonfire Night and ahead of any anticipated fireworks, you can begin teaching your dog to remain calm in response to the sounds. A few simple steps below may help –
- Find a video or recording of fireworks, and play the video at the lowest possible volume a few times during the day.
- Pair the sound of the fireworks with things your dog likes, such as treats, dinner, cuddle time, or playing with toys.
- Slowly begin to raise the volume of the recording or video over the course of several days, and continue to pair the sound of fireworks with good things for your dog.
- If at any point your dog begins to dislike the sounds, then turn the volume down to a point where he feels more comfortable.
- Repeat this several times each day until your dog can hear the sounds of the fireworks at a fairly high volume without becoming scared.
The real thing will obviously be different, but this will certainly help your dog be more comfortable.
What to do if you don’t have time in advance?
If you don’t have time to prepare for the fireworks, or if the above hasn’t ended your dog’s fear of there are other ways to help. These things may help with dogs who have a mild to moderate fear of fireworks.
- Don’t change your behaviour. Many people feel compelled to try to soothe their dogs when the dog is showing signs of fear. We pet them more than usual, cuddle them, and talk to them in soft voices. Rather than easing a dog’s fears, however, this often reinforces the dog’s fearful behaviours.
- Try not to react to the fireworks yourself. If you jump or tense up when you hear fireworks, you may make your dog’s fear worse.
- Drown out the sound of the fireworks. Try to turn up the radio or television and keep your windows closed during the fireworks.
- Don’t push your dog past his comfort zone. Allow him to hide if he feels more comfortable in his crate or under a bed.
Dealing with severe fear of fireworks
In the case of a severe phobia, there may be nothing you can do to ease your dog’s fear. If your dog exhibits a high level of fear, talk to your vet about options. Your vet may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication.
Medication may be the only answer to get your dog through the fireworks this season. However, you can begin preparing for the future with our above tips. In severe cases, you may not ever be successful in eradicating the phobia, but you may be able to ease some of your dog’s fear.