The firework season is fast approaching and this can be a terrifying time for many dogs. Prevention is much better than trying to cure a dog from a traumatic experience, which is why it is important to start putting the groundwork in now.
Let’s get started
Please visit the Dogs Trusts Website, where there is a range of firework sounds that you can start to expose your dog to now.
Exposure to noises should always be a positive experience for the dog. Start playing the soundtracks at a volume low enough so that the dog shows no signs of distress. Play the soundtracks when nice things are about to happen to your dog, like feeding times, car trips, play times or massage time! Use tidbits (ham, cheese, sausages) to further help in making positive associations with the background noise.
As the days/weeks pass, slowly increase the volume, ensuring the dog shows no signs of distress. If s/he does, then completely ignore this (don’t even look or talk to the dog) and lower the volume a little bit. If the dog continues to show fear, then completely ignore the dog and pretend nothing is wrong, whilst exposing him to the sound.
Exposure should take place daily for 15-20 minutes, always ensuring it is a positive experience for the dog.
You should be able to play the soundtracks at a volume where it is that of a real-life situation by the time the firework season approaches.
On Fireworks night
Do not leave your dog on his own the first time he encounters real fireworks! Turn the TV on or the radio and pretend you can’t hear any fireworks. You can also distract the dog by doing fun training sessions or by playing with him.
If the dog displays any signs of fear, then DO NOT REACT to this. Don’t look at the dog, talk to him or try to soothe him in any way. Go make a cup of tea and pretend nothing is happening. Dogs take great comfort in our confidence, so make sure you remain calm throughout firework nights, otherwise you will be rewarding fearful behaviour.
It is a great idea to make firework night fun for your dog. So think of games you can play like hide and seek, finding hidden tidbits, fetch, tricks and small fun obedience exercises. Use highly valuable tidbits and your dog will have a great first impression of firework night!
If your dog is so upset that it won’t play with you, fetch its ball, take high-value tidbits, then you need to contact us for a behavior consultation. During this time, let your dog hide in a safe place, wherever s/he wants to hide (e.g. in its crate covered with a blanket, under the bed, under the bed covers, etc) and do not make him/her go out or give them any attention. Put the TV or radio on a high volume to help dissipate the firework noises and just carry on with your evening as you normally would.
Wishing you a great firework season!
© Canine Paradise 2004