June 17, 2020
Be the Dog Mom or Dad that Helps Their Dog Get Over Their Fear of Fireworks This Year
More dogs run away during the week of the 4th of July than any other time of year. The dogs that are found, are often found miles away from their home, hungry and exhausted. While the 4th of July may be a time of celebration for us, some dogs’ instincts of fight or flight kick in. And fireworks means flight. This often results in many dogs running away from the scary sounds of fireworks to seek safety elsewhere.
Even dogs that are normally safe in their backyards have been known to scale fences and find surprising ways to escape. Sometimes it’s even an innocent guest or neighbor that comes by to celebrate with you and leaves the gate or door open just long enough for a pup to spot an opportunity to get out.
Even inside, some dogs tend to hide under the bed, in a closet or even in the bathtub. In the event of an actual emergency, their instincts would generally be spot on. However, it’s not healthy for a pup to be so stressed every time there are fireworks or other loud noises.
Not to worry. There are ways to help keep a dog calm who is afraid of fireworks. It doesn’t have to be so scary for them. We’ve spent many many hours researching the techniques recommended by the world’s top dog trainers and dog behaviorists on rehabilitating dogs who are afraid of fireworks. Techniques that have been found to WORK. So save yourself some money on training costs or the time of trying to figure it out alone. And know that you’re not alone. Many dog moms and dads have a dog who is afraid of fireworks. We can help.
So let’s get started.
Simply put, if your dog is conditioned to be in a relaxed state during sounds of fireworks, they can learn to disregard them as a threat.
Just follow these 3 easy steps in the weeks and days leading up to July.
Being in a calm, relaxed state is often the secret to solving most problem dog behaviors.
1. INCREASE THE DURATION OF YOUR DOG WALKS:
Dog trainers normally recommend dogs be walked for at least an hour a day, which can be split during the morning and evening.
Prior to the fireworks and festivities in your area, we’ll want to gradually increase this timeframe so your dog is tired and less reactive.
“A tired dog is a happy dog”
The day before and the day of the fireworks, increase the time walking your dog up to 3-4 hours a day. Build up to this gradually over at least a couple of weeks.
Exercise means going out for a walk or other forms of exercise. Not just running around in the backyard. Dogs need to get out just like we do. Smell the smells, see the sights, maybe even sniff some behinds. Dogs. Not us. That would be weird.
You know your dog and their limits best, so please use your best judgement and if heat is a concern, go for walks during the cooler hours of early morning and later in the evening.
*This is assuming your dog is physically capable with weather permitting. A darker colored dog, for example, may need to be monitored for less time in the heat or humidity in the summertime. Remember to bring some water for you and them if you’re out for a while on a hot day. The Kurgo collapsible dog bowl clips to your belt or jeans with the provided carabiner if you need an easy way to give your pup water on long walks or hikes.
**If you or your pup has any medical conditions or concerns, always consult your doctor or veterinarian prior to changing your exercise routine.
Did you know dogs can get tired from the mental stimulation of finding and tracking new scents?
2. EXPOSURE THERAPY:
Don’t worry. Reconditioning your dog’s stress response through exposure therapy is much easier than it sounds. We were able to find some free audio tracks on YouTube we thought you might find helpful. Here they are:
FIRST – Play Calming Sounds for at least a couple of minutes or until your pup settles down.
THEN – When your pup is in a calm, relaxed state, play sounds of fireworks. Start with the volume low and once your pup seems more relaxed, GRADUALLY increase the volume until it’s much louder.
*If you start playing the fireworks sounds at a low volume and your pup is suddenly alert and looking around – or an ear or two goes up, switch back to the calming sounds for a bit. This is especially important if you have more than one dog, as one can alert the other that they are concerned. Once they are calm again, go back to playing the sounds of fireworks. Switch back as necessary.
Once your pup is in a calm state while playing the sounds of fireworks, GRADUALLY increase the volume of the fireworks. Depending on your dog’s tolerance, gradually can mean over the course of a few days or even the same day if they are handling it well.
Set your dog up for success by celebrating the small victories. Take breaks if needed. Like any training for your dog, practice consistently. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.
3. YOUR DOG'S HOME ENVIRONMENT:
Just before you expect to hear fireworks going off, find ways to muffle the lights and sounds of the fireworks outside. The less stimulation to their senses, the better.
- Close the blinds or shades to prevent the light from the fireworks from coming in.
- Turn on the calming sounds to drown out the sounds of the fireworks. Your dog should be used to it by now and have a positive association with the calming sounds. If you are taking it easy at home with your dog, you can also opt to just increase the volume of the show you are watching or the music you are already listening to.
- Make sure your dog has access to their bed or the place they normally sleep. If they tend to pace, close any doors in the home to limit access, unless their bed is in that room.
If no dog bed is available or you’re away and didn’t bring one, anything resembling a den is generally a prime spot. Here are some additional ideas:
- A cardboard box with a towel or blanket inside.
- Free up a corner of a room and place a towel or blanket down for them to lay down on – or a space with solid walls on 2-3 sides and an opening on one side.
- If you have a desk against a wall, free up the space under the desk.
Dogs with no clear bed or crate will often pace more than those with obvious ones
10 BONUS TIPS
DO: Be consistent with your training over time. Some dogs need more time than others, so patience is key. To help illustrate this better, let’s say you are terrified of a spider or snake – or know someone who is. It might take some time to become less stressed about it and eventually develop the healthy coping behaviors to help lessen this fear. Likewise, give your dog time to cope. But don’t avoid addressing the situation just because they don’t like it. That will only keep them stressed out over the long run. Help them by doing a little bit of training every day over time. Once they calm down and can eventually listen to sounds of fireworks at a loud volume, you will have made an amazing accomplishment to help your dog.
DO: Make sure any guests are made aware of your dog’s fear of fireworks and keep any gates or doors closed at all times. If you are expecting guests, consider keeping your dog in a separate room or on a leash that is secured. Never leave your dog tied up outside unattended.
DO: If you are outside walking your dog, make sure to hold or secure your leash. Sometimes you may be out for a walk and fireworks start going off during your walk. We know. It’s happened to us. If they tend to pull out of their collar or harness when scared, consider getting a martingale collar beforehand as a precaution. This is a regular collar with a loop that tightens when pulled. Actually, we like martingales for everyday use. We also consider it a safer alternative to choke and prong collars, which can potentially cause damage. Even slip leads have to constantly be adjusted to stay on correctly. The martingale collar is honestly the only thing our houdini of a dog is unable to escape from. But we digress…
DO: Make sure you are calm. Dogs can sense your energy if you are nervous (even if you are anxious about them being anxious). Dogs pick up on this. Instead of being worried about them, we know- this is hard, but practice being calm yourself and act like fireworks are no big deal and nothing to be concerned with.
DO: If you need a little extra help, join other dog moms and dads who are getting faster training results from Hand and Paw’s calming CBD treats. Shop for a sample pack today and see the difference for yourself. Here are what some customers with fearful dogs had to say.
“The best thing I have ever done for my pets! Thank-you!
“He’s no longer hiding in the tub or closet. I will be keeping these CBD treats on hand.”
“They worked really well on him”
“I didn’t realize how important it was until we ran out”
Set your dog up for success by practicing with calming and fireworks sounds on a regular basis
DO NOT: Bring your dog to fireworks shows with you. Instead, keep them safe inside.
DO NOT: Leave your dog outside during fireworks. They can be downright scary to them.
DO NOT: Hold, talk to or cuddle your pup when they are freaking out. WHAT?! I know. Unfortunately, this only validates their fear that there is something wrong and they are right to be scared. Instead, practice being calm yourself and act like it is no big deal and nothing to be concerned with. If you must touch them to keep them from pacing or fidgeting, hold the underside of their collar only and sit near them. DO NOT otherwise TOUCH, TALK or LOOK at them. This is a great calming technique for many situations actually. We know, this one is hard. But it helps. And that’s the goal, right? Most dogs take about 5-10 minutes before they start to settle down.
DO NOT: force your dog out of a hiding spot inside, such as under the bed, in a closet or in the bathtub unless there is a legitimate safety concern. To understand this better, pretend that there was a tornado coming and you retreated to the basement for safety and protection. And then someone tried to force you out of basement in the middle of the tornado. What would your reaction be?
Obviously, we know we don’t need to hide from fireworks, but our pups don’t know this. Keep their trust by letting them stay there until they feel it’s safe to come out. They’ll be better able to work with you on improving their behavior at another time if you have a solid bond and know they can trust you when they’re scared.
DO NOT: Give up. Start slow and go at your dog’s pace. It’s normal for some dogs to take longer than others. The key is patience.
Remember, practicing in a controlled environment for just a few minutes a day can help change your dog’s life for the long-run. If your memory is anything like mine, consider adding a reminder to set a few minutes aside each day for training in your calendar. Or ask Siri or Alexa to remind you. If it’s hard to find 5-10 minutes a day, try playing the calming music and fireworks sounds while you’re cooking or microwaving or even settling down in the evening.
THANK-YOU FOR HELPING YOUR PUP FEEL BETTER
Lastly, thank-you for taking the time to read through these training tips and helping your dog feel better. We understand what it’s like to not be able to communicate so easily with our furry companions and we’ve made a commitment to better understand their language so we can help you to help them live their best life.
A dog mom or dad that cares so much as to understand and implement these steps (and have made it this far) to help your furry family member is a hero in our eyes. We admire your love for your pup and send you our best wishes, love, and encouragement to help make this training a success.
For those of you who are already customers, we know you have your choice when it comes to CBD and we truly appreciate you choosing Hand and Paw and H+P Natural Wellness. We do things differently because we really do care about helping you be able to help your dog. Dogs are our inspiration and passion. If we can emulate their love and demonstrate that appreciation in caring for our customers and their fur-children, then we are achieving success.
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