BOOM! Crackle... BANG!
Fireworks, thunderstorms and other uncontrollable noise in the environement are tricky for some pets. While some of these things can be lots of fun for most humans, they can be a nightmare for the dog.
With the right conditioning and the right temperament, dogs can often learn to enjoy them too, but that is not the case for all dogs. They can be confusing with extreme light changes, loud bangs and even atmospheric pressure changes that they can feel. If you have a dog who is sensitive to things like thunder storms, they'll likely not enjoy the Victoria Day and Canada Day festivities coming up. There are no fail-safe cures for sound sensitive dogs during holiday fireworks, but there are some things that you can do to make them feel safer.
If your dog is not crate trained, you might consider it, especially for situations like this. Dogs have a natural instinct to den as it makes them feel safe. Small, cave like enclosures allow them to feel safe that nothing is behind them and the only opening is clearly in view. If your dog is already comfortable with their crate, cover any holes or openings (ensuring there is still adequate airflow) and allow the dog to feel safely denned. Play with whether or not your dog benefits from the door being covered as well. Typically, the darker the enclosure, the better.
Put on some soothing noise, like the TV or radio. Try to deaden the noise from outside a bit. Find the most sound proof area of your home like the basement. Allow your dog to rest there with some soothing background noise or music. Be mindful that some dogs feel worse being isolated, so you may want to hang out with a book and enjoy the soothing music as well.
Modern inventions like the "Thunder Shirt" can be really helpful for calming some dogs. They act like a swaddling blanket with a baby, snuggling in and allowing a feeling of being "hugged" and comforted. You can achieve the same thing with a snugly-fit t-shirt. Be mindful that it's not too hot for your dog in the extra layer.
While this should be a last resort, it can be a saving grace for dogs with extreme fears. If you dread holiday celebrations because you can't stand seeing your dog under the extra stress of fireworks, consider talking to your vet about calming medications. A mild prescription sedative or even a natural solution, like essential oils, can be a great management tool for you and your dog.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Some dogs will benefit from being exposed to natural noise on an incremental schedule. There are tools that can help some dogs. Starting out with a recording of a thunder storm played quietly and the gradually louder as time goes on can help to set some dogs up to ignore the noise once it's real. This can also be a good desensitization tactic as well, but we highly recommend working with a behaviourist before starting any programs like this.
Hopefully these tips will help your dog through things like fireworks or thunder storms. Always be aware of where your dog is during these times. A frightened dog will run and could become lost or hurt. Be sure you always know where they are and that they are secure inside the house when the evening is booming.
As always, Happy Training!
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