The dazzles of flaring colours blasting in the dark night may not be dazzling to our four-legged friends as it is to us. According to Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 45 per cent of dogs have phobia for fireworks. In a dog’s perspective, fireworks are noisy, unpredictable, visually frightening, and have the smell of fire. Considering your canine’s heightened senses, fireworks are a bombardment of their every sense, resulting in a dog scared of fireworks. What can you do for a dog that has fireworks anxiety? Read on to learn how to calm your dog during a fireworks event.
Symptoms of a dog scared of fireworks
The following will tell you that your dog has a fireworks phobia:
- Drooling excessively
- Heavy panting
- Seeking for cover (hiding)
- Stress-related vocalisation through whining, howling, or barking
- Tail is tucked between the legs, and ears are folded
- Running blindly or attempting to escape
What you can do
1. Sound acclimation
Ensure that he will be comfortable for the big night. Invest in CDs for pets or stream videos with fireworks shows. This is to desensitise your dog with a variety of disturbing noises. Remember to do this only when he is relaxed, such as before or during playtime, mealtime, before walks, and training sessions. The goal is to let him associate the sound to something positive. Observe and see if he remains comfortable and attentive to any activities that he is doing. You may try to gradually increase the volume. However, if your dog is showing any signs of distress, turn the volume down to where he is comfortable.
2. Create a safe den
When scared, a canine will seek for a small and enclosed place as a hideaway. Help him in creating a hiding place.
- For a dog that is crate-trained, you may use his crate as his personal space. To make him feel more secure, put some of your worn woolly clothes inside. Your scent will help him to feel secure. It is also important to remember to keep the crate door open so he will not feel trapped.
- Examine other potential areas where your pooch will most likely hide, such as under the bed or in the bath. Make sure that those areas are clean and comfortable to accommodate him.
3. Keep your dog engaged
Use your dog’s favourite toys and games to keep his mind occupied on the big night. This will distract him from the discomfort brought on by the fireworks. Turning on the TV or the radio may also distract him from the noise.
Use these treats and games:
- Treat ball
- Puzzle board toys
- Treat-release puzzles
- Safe chew toys
Furthermore, do not give treats when your dog is stressed. Catch his attention with an engaging activity that will make him earn for treats.
4. Act normal
Bear in mind that your pooch will reflect the emotions of his pack leader. Therefore, as a pack leader, act normal. Portray a playful and cheerful mood as positive signals. If he tries to run and hide, do not chase him. Give comfort, cuddles, and space according to what your dog is asking for.
5. Routine adjustment
Consider adjustments to your normal schedule. If your usual time to walk your dog occurs during the fireworks period, the time should be rescheduled before the event. This is to avoid the risk of being outside with your dog when the fireworks begin.
Many dogs get spooked by fireworks, then they run off and go missing. Flight response is their initial fear reaction when triggered by fear. As such, be prepared when this happens:
- Put him on a leash and attach an ID tag with your complete contact information.
- In case he will be able to break off the collar, make sure that he is microchipped.
- Make sure to feed your dog before any disturbances may occur. In most cases, once the fireworks start, your canine might be too anxious to eat.
- Walks should be done before dusk.
- Close all doors and windows at home, including the curtains. This is to block flashes of light and to reduce the noise from outside.
- Make sure there is enough water available as he will need more of it from panting excessively.
- Take extra caution when opening the door.
- Visit veterinarians beforehand and ask prescriptions for sedatives, such as Benadryl, when you feel the need to.
- Make an anti-anxiety wrap to help reduce his anxiety.
- Do not panic when the disturbing noise has begun. Even big dogs get scared of fireworks.
- Do not take your canine to a fireworks display. Avoid the risk of him getting lost.
- Do not leave him outside even when he is tied on a leash whilst fireworks are set off.
- Do not reinforce anxiety behaviour by giving treats or rewards.
- Do not get separated from him.
- Do not scold him when he is feeling anxious. It will only encourage him from being distressed.
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