One of our favorite holidays is right around the corner, the 4th of July! But this is not always the favorite for everyone in the house. Dog owners know, that the loud noises of the fireworks can be harmful and scary to their furry friends. This time around though, we want to give you some tips and tricks on how to keep your dogs happy and comfortable during the big fireworks show.
According to a blog post by the New York Times (nytimes.com), 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, especially during the summer months. Things like thunderstorms and fireworks seem to do the most damage. This condition makes dogs do whatever they can to escape the noise. So what can you do as a pet owner to help settle those furry friends’ nerves? The Humane Society (humanesociety.org) gives us three great tips and tricks on how to make these noises much less scary.
Tip 1 – Create a Safe Place
Create a place where your dog can go when they get scared. A place where they feel comfortable and safe, all from their perspective. Keep an eye on where they go whenever they get scared or frightened. Whether it be under the bed, in a closet or in the bathroom, find the place that they go to often when scared. Make sure they have access to this area of your home, so they can get there, and get comfortable. You could even create a “hidey-hole” where they can get into a spot small, dark and shielded from the scary noise. Using a fan or radio to help block the noise is even a great idea. Feeding the dog in these areas will help them associate good things with the area, so they will be more likely to use them in times of distress. This method does not work with every dog, however.
Tip 2 – Distract Them
This trick works the best right when your dog begins to get anxious. Once a clap of thunder, or boom of a firework happens, do all you can to get their mind off of the loud noises, and onto having fun, or doing an activity with them. Do something they love to do, play fetch, run around the house, watch television, really whatever they enjoy doing that will get them active and distracted, do it! As the noises get louder and louder, you may not be able to hold their attention. If this is so, stop what you are doing and try another tactic. Attempting to try to hold their attentions could force them into fearful behavior during that activity.
Tip 3 – Behavior Modification
Behavior modification is very commonly successful in getting rid of fears. In order for them to be effective, they have to be implemented very slowly, and you have to have lots of patience. These also have to be done in the right way. If done incorrectly, it could make the situation much worse. Begin exposing your dog to these noises at a small intensity level. Something that won’t startle them, but will lightly grab their attention. Something like some sounds of thunder, or firecrackers / fireworks. These should be intensified very gradually and sporadically. This may not always work, because thunder is also accompanied by lightning.
What Not To Do
Do Not Reassure Them
Loving on, petting, and giving treats to your dog, may make them believe they are being rewarded for their fearful behavior. Instead of this, go on with your normal behavior, and do not give them special treatment (other than tactics to help them as we discussed earlier) and act as if you can’t tell they are scared.
Do Not Put Them in Their Crate
If you are trying to get them to not be destructive while being scared, putting your dog in a crate is the worst idea. They could get even more scared and hurt themselves, even severely, attempting to get out.
Do Not Punish Them For Being Scared
Punishing them for being scared is not only wrong, but it will in turn make them even more scared.
Do Not Try to Force Them to Listen to the Sound That is Scaring Them
Making them stay close, could make them aggressive, trying to get away from the noises.
If none of these work, you should take your dog to an animal-behavior specialist as well as your veterinarian. They both will have more ways of helping get rid of your dog’s noise anxiety.
We hope these tips and tricks will help both your dog, and you have a wonderful 4th! Have a great long weekend!