HELPING DOGS WITH FEAR OF FIREWORKS
Are you dreading the 4th of July because you’re worried that your dog will be freaked out by fireworks? Here are some tips for helping dogs with fear of fireworks (or any other “scary” or loud noises).
1. A tired dog is a happy dog. Exercise always helps your dog to behave better by tiring him out. Do extra walks and runs during stressful times to help relax your dog and make him less likely to react to loud noises or anything he is fearful of.
2. Lead by example: Make sure you’re calm during the loud and sudden sounds! Sometimes, we project fear by expecting it to be there. It’s like when a child falls down and their parent reacts by saying, “Oh my gosh, Johnny!! Are you OK? I bet you’re hurt badly!!” The kid sees their parent’s reaction and starts crying. Instead if you just say, “You’re fine, Johnny. Let’s get you up and take a look. Yep! You’re fine. Let’s go get some ice cream!!” Don’t feed into your dog’s reaction. Show him it’s silly to be scared.
3. Redirect: Play and/or run through commands with your dog when the sounds go off. You could even put on some loud music if needed to help drown out the noise. Just make sure you keep him occupied rather than allowing him to run and hide or shake.
4. Desensitize: You can download firework noises (or sirens or any other sound your dog is afraid of) and play them for your dog on low volume and build his tolerance slowly. All the steps above are still important to keep in mind while doing these practice runs.
5. First timers: If you have a puppy that hasn’t heard fireworks yet, make sure and teach him that they are FUN!! Celebrate with him instead of looking for any scared reaction. I’ve trained my dogs to run outside with me when we hear fireworks – because they know it’s exciting & fun!!
If your dog is really nervous and you feel you could use some expert help, The Pooch Coach is just a phone call away!