How Can I Stop My Dog Being Scared and Afraid of Thunder and Fireworks?
A great many dog owners have pets which are truly terrified of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks. We can find it equally distressing watching our traumatized dog cowering under our beds or behind our legs because they are petrified. The question is how can you stop your dog being scared of thunder, fireworks and other loud noises? Well there are a number of effective ways that this behavior can either be prevented or cured if handled correctly. This hub is written partly based on what I have learned from having dogs of my own over the years, and partly based on useful tips I picked up during my time working in two different veterinary surgeries.
I hope you will find this information useful and that you will find it prevents future problems in your dogs or puppies, and either cures the problem if it already exists in your pet, or at the very least reduces the stress your dog experiences when these noises are unavoidable.
Let's begin with some of the best ways to prevent this behavior developing in your young dog or puppy in the first place.
From a very young age you should concentrate some effort into making sure your pet is exposed to the sound of fireworks or thunder at a low volume that is gradually increased in order to desensitize him to the sounds. The easiest way to do this is to buy a specialist CD through your veterinary surgery or online. These CD's have all sorts of different sounds on them, and the idea is that over a period of days or weeks you play the offending noises on a low, but gradually increasing volume. During these times you keep your pet distracted with food, toys, affection etc, so that he not only learns the noise is not a bad thing, but actually quite the opposite.
Assuming your dog is already scared of thunder, fireworks or other loud noises, then you can also try using the CD method I described previously. What you should not do is attempt to comfort and reassure your pet when he or she is showing fearful behavior. If you are wondering why this is a bad thing I will explain. Essentially by cuddling, talking kindly and generally comforting your terrified dog, you are rewarding the negative behavior and effectively training the dog to behave this way whenever confronted by these noises. The secret is to ignore the negative behavior and praise any signs of bravery or normality the dog exhibits.
Distraction is another good cure, play a game with your dog, give him a bone or fill one of those treat balls with biscuits so your dog has to roll it around the floor to get the treats out.
Bring another dog into the household for the evening when fireworks are expected. Make sure this visiting dog is one your dog already gets on well with, and that it is one not fearful of fireworks. Your dog should see the other dog acting normally when the fireworks go off and will learn that there is nothing to be scared of.
The DAP plugin I describe in the next section will also make the process of curing your dog of this fear much easier, so I recommend you buy one as part of your behavior modification routine.
Reduce the Problem
Again the CD method can definitely help here if you are patient and persevere with the process.
Try blocking your dog's ears with cotton wool balls for the duration of the fireworks or the thunderstorm.
Turn up your television set to drown out the noise as much as possible.
Distract your dog with a bone, toy or a game.
Use a DAP plugin to calm your dog down. These are incredibly effective in a number of situations for example:
- When you move house.
- When you introduce a new dog to the existing dog in the household.
- When you travel with your dog to new and strange properties.
- When settling a new puppy into your home.
- During storms or firework displays.