Many of us who have dogs do not get excited about the fireworks as much as others. Dog + fireworks often do not go together. We know that our dog is either hiding under the table, barking for an hour or shivering in fear. A lot of dogs are scared of fireworks. You do not have to look for any logical or evolutionary explanation. Fear is often illogical, triggered by an imaginable or real threat. How can you help your dog to fight this fear?

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Prevent the fear

First of all, if you have a puppy who hasn’t seen the fireworks yet or a dog who is not afraid, use the chance to make a positive association between loud noises and positive rewards. Fear can develop in life, especially with unpleasant experiences. Link loud sounds like thunder, pot dropping on the floor, door slamming with a positive reward. Create artificial conditions or use the naturally occurring ones to treat, praise the dog or start a game whenever loud sounds are present. Veterinary behaviourists can help your dog at dissolving this fear by counterconditioning.

How does counterconditioning work?

For example, I am afraid of spiders. However, if I get 5 euros every time I see a spider, my fear will definitely lessen or I even will anticipate and wait to spot a spider. The same works for dogs. You can buy a cd with scary noises that you can use when desensitizing and making a positive association for your dog. Do not forget that just buying a cd does not work. You have to make a link between a scary sound and a pleasant experience. This will require time and lots of repetitions.

Another effective way to desensitize dogs to loud noises like fireworks is through exposure therapy. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing dogs to the noise while engaging them in positive activities like playing, petting, or feeding them treats. The exposure should be done in a controlled and safe environment to prevent dogs from getting overwhelmed. It is important to note that exposure therapy should be done gradually to avoid triggering the dog’s fear response. The ultimate goal of exposure therapy is to replace the fear response with a calm and positive one.

A night with dog + fireworks

On New Year’s Eve do not leave your dog alone. If you are not able to stay, maybe your grandma, the neighbour can stay with your dog. Friends in need are friends indeed. Close the windows, and put some music on in order to lower the dog’s firework noise. We do not encourage to take your dog outside. If you do it, make sure to leash your dog, even if you are in a village with no traffic. In a moment of fear, the dog might run away.

One way to minimize the impact of fireworks on dogs is to create a safe space for them. This safe space should be a quiet and secure room where dogs can retreat to when fireworks are going off. The room should be equipped with familiar and comforting items like their bed, toys, and blankets. Dog owners can also use essential oils like lavender or chamomile to create a calming atmosphere. It is important to note that the safe space should be introduced to dogs gradually to avoid overwhelming them. Dog owners should also avoid punishing their dogs when they display fear as it can worsen the problem.

Comfort your dog dog fireworks. help your dog who's afraid of fireworks.

There is a popular misunderstanding that one should not comfort a dog if they are afraid. This is untrue. If your dog seeks attention from you, be gentle, reassure your dog, play a game, serve dinner or just lay your hand on your friend. If the dog does not approach you and hides, better leave him/her there. Everybody copes with overwhelming emotions differently. If the dog wants to hide do not force nearness. If you see your dog yawning or avoiding eye contact once you approach, leave them. Anxiety can push your dog to behave unexpectedly or even aggressively.

Products against the fear

If your dog has grave problems, it is worth consulting your veterinary doctor to discuss other means to help your dog. There are calming collars, tablets, and drops that are composed of natural, herbal ingredients or even pheromone-like substances that calm dogs down in stressful situations.

So whatever it is your dog afraid of – fireworks, vacuum cleaners, umbrellas etc. be with your dog, play a game, give some tasty treats, and take them away from the situation if possible. Be a good friend do not leave your dog in fear. Good associations or distractions will slowly dissolve the fear and make your dog enjoy New Years’ evening a bit more than a year before.

Dogo Team wishes you a happy, relaxed, beautiful New Year.

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