Controlling dogs’ fear of fireworks
Most dogs have a horrible time when there’s any type of celebration that includes fireworks. This type of disorder is called acousticophobia and it affects many dogs. It causes them to have panic attacks and to run away and hide. Do you know how to deal with this?
The first to do is to try to know when fireworks are going to be thrown and try to be at home. Your dog may be less scared if he is not alone. Take him out for a walk before the fireworks start, not during. If you’re out taking a walk and the fireworks start, he may try to run away and get lost. We don’t recommend taking dogs to see fireworks, but if you do it’s important for him to be tied the whole time.
During the fireworks don’t try to pet him to get him to calm down. If you do, you will send the wrong message and he will associate a stressful situation with something positive: fear + stress= I get attention. If you pet him he will eventually get even more nervous to get your attention, maybe thinking that it’s the only way he gets it. Don’t get mad at him either, or scream, it will just make it worse. The best thing to do is to ignore him or distract him playing a game.
Another thing that you can do is to minimize the noise by putting him in a room as far away from the noise. You can play music or turn the television on so he doesn’t hear the fireworks as much.
The most important thing is for you to be calm and ignore the noises, don’t get nervous, he can sense it. Dogs can hear noises four times better than we can, imagine that?
If your dog hides when there’s fireworks one thing you can do is to create a safe place where he can be during the fireworks.
If you have tried all the above and your dog is still having a hard time you may need something extra. Talk to your vet and explain the situation. You vet may recommend using natural products like bach flowers or DAP (dog appeasing pheromone); you should start using them a few days before the fireworks.
Thunder shirts are also an option, these are calming or anti-anxiety shirts that work by applying pressure to the dog’s torso. This way calming hormones like endorphins and oxytocin will be naturally released. You can buy them online or at your closest pet store. It’s not recommended to put the t-shirt on the day of, the dog may associate having it on with a stressful situation (fireworks), which is why you should put it on a few days prior.
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