Calm Dog Afraid of Fireworks (With These Five Tips)
It is absolutely normal for a dog to be afraid of firecrackers and pyrotechnics in general, due to the loud bangs they cause. Dogs, unlike humans, do not consider them to be fun paraphernalia used during celebrations, and are easily frightened. Running away from the boom is due to their survival instinct kicking in. However, there are ways you can calm dog afraid of fireworks with the tips below.
Signs your dog is afraid of fireworks
Most dog owners are able to notice when something is wrong with their canine, especially if he becomes scared or nervous, but not everyone is able to pick up on these cues.
Some common signs that your dog can exhibit if he gets afraid of fireworks include:
His heart is also likely to be racing.
Each dog is unique and can exhibit one or several of the aforementioned symptoms. Although the fear of fireworks may seem negligible in principle, it can get pent up and lead your dog into a state of panic.
Fireworks are a huge novelty, especially during the 4th of July and Christmas holiday revelries, and can become a real nightmare for your pet, and so it’s important to prepare your fur child for upcoming events.
Tips to calm dog afraid of fireworks
Dogs have varying levels of reaction to certain stimuli and some overcome their fear in a short time, while others need a few more weeks.
The following are five ways to prevent your dog from flipping out when firecrackers start flying:
1. Wear him out
Wearing your dog out before exposure to firework events is one way to calm him down. Intense exercises channel away tension, and long walks and physically demanding games are one way to go about it.
The exercises should be undertaken about an hour before the pyrotechnic events begin. When you get back home, crank up the volume on your radio to drown out the whiz and bangs.
2. Acclimatizing and conditioning
It is important to help your canine get used to fireworks, and one way to achieve this is by playing recordings almost on a daily basis and randomly. This should be done before he eats, plays or goes out for a walk. It will condition him to expect fun things.
3. Don’t hold him
It is super important to stay with your fur kid during firework heavy events to transmit calmness and prevent him from bolting. However, avoid caressing or holding him in your arms, because it will feed his fear, even if he comes to you for comfort or to be cuddled, and whines.
4. Keep him distracted
The trick is to keep your noise sensitive dog distracted, either by giving him food while the fireworks are going on or playing games with him. Ball, chase and fetch games will do to make it less of a deal.
5. Close the windows
Close the windows to minimize the crackling noises and prevent alarm caused by the flashing lights. Moreover, act in a completely normal way, as if absolutely nothing is happening, because the main objective is to distract your dog from his focus on fear.
You can also run around the house or chase him in a playful way to make him feel better about it. If you follow these tips on how to calm dog afraid of fireworks, your pooch will learn that the loud noises are not something to worry about.
What you should avoid
There are a series of measures that some people take while trying to alleviate the fear that their dogs have of firecrackers that end up achieving the exact opposite.
The following is an overview of some of them:
Petting your dog
Do not pet your fur kid if he is scared, because he will think that being afraid is fine and that's why you’re rewarding him.
Trying to calm your dog with words
Do not talk to your dog to calm him down with phrases like "calm down" and "nothing will happen". He will detect that something is not right and will get even more scared.
Leaving your dog with the kids
Some dogs get so nervous and scared that they become aggressive, so it’s not advisable to let him be around other animals or kids during this time. If you are not going to be around, invite a friend or sitter over to stay with him.
Is medication for scared dogs necessary?
Medication must always be the last resort when trying to help your dog overcome fear and can only be applicable when the veterinarian deems it appropriate. Remember that a drugged or sedated dog also hears the fireworks and can get really frightened.
In this case he may panic, but will not be able to move because of the medication. This can lead to cardiac arrest in extreme situations.
To avoid this, administering calming medicines while he is snoozing away is usually recommended. In a worst case scenario, he will be alert, frightened, but unable to react, and this will be torture. Few veterinarians actually prescribe this method for this reason.
What about the Tellington TTouch method?
This method involves tying a band, gently around the body of your dog to form an 8. The band supposedly exerts targeted pressure that calms the dog. It is a technique developed by Linda Tellington-Jones, who was an animal therapist, and is based on human contact with dogs.
In theory, pressure exerted by the band sends sensory impulses to the dog's brain that help calm him down. The band mimics pressure exerted by a human when caressing and massaging certain points of the dog's body.
When the dog's brain receives these impulses, it generates calming and relaxing sensations. That said, its beneficial effects have never been fully demonstrated.
Furthermore, some dogs loathe being tied up, which can increase their stress and anxiety levels. So obviously, the technique is not recommended in phonophobia situations.
It can be a lot of fun watching the fireworks with your dog, but you must be sensitive to your dogs over-all well being. Therefore, if your pooch exhibits signs that he is afraid, use the above tips on how to calm dog afraid of fireworks, your best bud will thank you!