Does your dog have a fear of fireworks? Does he struggle to calm down, listen pacing, panting, clingy, perhaps even destructive or previously escaped before because of them?
You’re not alone!
As New Year approach’s people begin to become concerned with how their dog will cope with the Fireworks, by now, with the firework display right around the corner, it is unfortunately a little too late to heal your dogs fear/phobia of the loud abrupt noise that fireworks produce, but you can certainly put in a few management techniques that can help make the time a little easier for your four legged pal.
Expel as much energy as you can between now and new years eve, stress can build up in the body, like with us when we become tense, stressed or fearful it becomes trapped in the muscles, movement is one of the best ways to loosen up and relieve stress caught up in the body, the more comfortable, relaxed and balanced your dog feels approaching NYE the easier it will be for him to deal with the fireworks. Give your dog nice long walks, play tug, fetch etc and get them working for their food with some environmental enrichment techniques.
Crating your dog is preferable if he is crate trained, or allowing him to take comfort in a tight space, many dogs take comfort in the bathroom or laundry some will curl up close to the couch, near a pile of blankets etc, this will help bring some security and comfort to your dog. If you know your dog is fearful or if you have no idea how he might react it is not recommended to leave them out in the yard. Many dogs attempt and successfully escape as they enter the flight mode in their fearful state. It is not worth the risk.
Have the tv or radio going, this will help dull the sound of the fireworks.
Have a KONG stuffed with food and put it in the freezer the night of or that morning – I like to use mince, some dogs find the act of chewing very comforting especially when feeling stressed.
Thundershirt or a DIY version as pictured, it is said to make a difference in 80% of dogs and it works by placing constant comforting pressure on the dog.
If your dog isn’t crate trained or doesn’t find anywhere within the house comforting allow him to get close to you. Many trainers will advise you not to touch or give your dog attention during times of them feeling fearful, as they believe you will encourage your dog to behave and seek out your attention on purpose. I call BS if your dog is genuinely fearful, they, 1) can’t control their emotional state, if they could they could just stop being fearful, who wants to feel like that? If you can switch if on intentionally you can switch it off intentionally and 2) as someone who has suffered with isolating and severe anxiety in the past, you would not wish that feeling on your worst enemy, let alone purposely put yourself in that state of mind just to receive attention. I’m talking about dogs who are genuinely fearful, panting, pacing, stressed, unable to listen or follow directions, at risk of putting himself in a dangerous situation. Your dog is not being an attention seeker, if he is seeking you out when he is in that state of mind he is looking towards you for guidance. Whilst baby talk and dotting all over your dog in attempt to comfort them is going to do very little to help, holding them tightly similar to what the thunder shirt or wrap would do does help soothe some dogs.
While this advice may help comfort your dog a little in the moment of the fireworks, anxiety is tough and not something that goes away on it’s own. Usually when a dog has a phobia or is anxious by one event, they are almost always effected by other things in their life that they struggle to cope with. Anxiety comes from feeling as though you have a lack of control in a particular situation. Having a training approach that is designed to empower the dog and bring clarity into his life will help him feel more in control and more able to make fantastic decisions on his own. You can always start NOW to make sure next NYE is a much more pleasant experience for you and your dog.
If you have any questions, interested to learn a bit more about your dog and his fear/phobia and if and where anxiety might be occurring else where in his life, or you would like to further discuss training please follow the link below to our contact page where you will receive a free introductory phone consult.
We hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas and we hope you and your dog are able to have a happy new year xx