Summer is coming and July 14th fireworks are coming with it. This means lots of fun, parties, camping, beaches, but also…. fireworks. Although it can be very cute, many dogs and other animals are afraid of fireworks. Does this affect your dog too? He was never alone! Different studies show that approximately 49% of all dogs show at least one fear signal when they hear fireworks. A 2013 study showed that approximately 25% of dogs were severely affected. Luckily, there are many things you can do today to make New Year’s Eve more comfortable for your loyal friend.
Do not punish your dog when he is anxious!
You cannot reduce an emotion like fear by punishing it. Think about yourself and your own fears. If you’re scared because you can’t escape a giant spider or a swarm of wasps, won’t you be scared if I let you yell and slap you? I don’t think so… Plus, you’re breaking the bond of trust and adding bad arousal to a bad situation. This will only exacerbate your dog’s fear response at the time. What he doesn’t do is take on his fear. On the contrary.
Don’t ignore your dog
Unfortunately, this is often recommended. The assumption is that if you give a dog attention when he is anxious, you are rewarding him for his “unwanted” behavior. If there is one thing you take away from this blog, I want it to be this. You CANNOT reward fear. This is not how your dog’s brain works. When your dog is anxious, he goes into survival mode. When in survival mode, all processes necessary for survival are activated. So your dog is never busy with “oh, when I’m so worried, I get a lot of attention. Imagine your child is crying because he’s scared. A balloon bursts next to him or a very scary clown is standing there next to him (I’m not afraid of clowns) I really hope your answer is NO. You will comfort your child and provide security, safety and support. “Secure attachment” is very important for the social development of children but also of dogs. If you ignore your dog when he needs you, the relationship between you and your dog will be destroyed. And since he is not used to this behavior (ignoring you)(I assume), he will start chasing you .so more. So what do you do? Support your dog with your presence. If your dog feels more comfortable resting his head on your shoe or lap, let it. If your dog likes it, handle it gently. Do not pet the dog too much or talk hi him very much, because it makes him nervous. And that brings me to my next point.
Dogs are social animals and seek information about their environment among their family members. If you stay calm, your dog will copy it. If you are also nervous and stressed, this will prove to your dog that there is something real to worry about.
Turn on the radio or television at normal volume.
This is to reduce the difference between the bangs and the surrounding noise. If everything is calm and suddenly a balloon bursts behind you, you will be shocked. If Metallica is playing loud on the radio and the same balloon pops up behind you, it will have little effect. Just make sure your dog has no problem with the music itself. Research shows that talk radio, podcasts, or classical music can calm dogs in a kennel environment. But dogs are individuals and develop their own preferences, dogs are known to have a better effect on reggae, lounge or even Metal 😉 .
Close windows, doors and curtains.
We want to exclude as much noise and light as possible. We also want to prevent the dog from escaping at all costs. Also, make sure he has his ID tags and is chipped in case he gets away. Also check the DogID chip database if your chip details are public, so you, the owner, can be found and contacted more easily. Vets, shelters and the police always have access to your contact details
Plan home escape routes
As humans, we are often tempted to sit around the dog when he is very scared. Or put him in his basket and hug him tight. However, this limits the dog’s ability to escape and exacerbates the fear. So make sure your dog always has the option to move where he wants in the room. It also means you don’t lock him in his cage.
Try to distract your dog by playing
If your dog is uncomfortable but not too anxious, sometimes he indulges in playing. If so, you can distract him by playing. It also ensures that a positive experience is associated with fireworks.
Rooms with few windows are usually preferred.
Dogs prefer the bathroom or basement during fireworks. This is because there are usually small windows or no windows in these rooms. The bigger the window, the more the sound waves spread.
Don’t let your dog down
If you know your dog is afraid of fireworks, don’t let him! Many dogs do this better when the owner is present. Also, your dog can do some crazy things in his panic. He can seriously injure himself or destroy things in the house while trying to escape.
Do not give medicines in which acepromazine is the active ingredient!
Some dogs may need medical support, but whatever you give, DO NOT give acepromazine.
I’m there many more tips to ease your dog’s fear of fireworks, but most of all I can teach you how to help your dog overcome this fear. Next year, you can enjoy the New Year together or you can celebrate the New Year somewhere else. With the help of my new online mini-course. You will go through it in about 2 hours and then you will be armed with all the knowledge you need to make a difference for your dog.