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Your Dog And Fireworks' Displays
Dogs are afraid of the loud sounds that come with that glorious explosion of lights in the sky. The sensitive hearing of dogs magnifies the impact. Like thunderstorms, the sound increases the sense of anxiety. In fact, fireworks can terrify your companion. The sight and, particularly the sound, can send animals running away from the sound. Your pet can flee, get lost and end up in a pet shelter or worse. With the season of lights fast coming up, you need to know what to do to help alleviate the stress and fear fireworks can cause.
The Two Approaches
When it comes to fireworks and dogs, the experts sit firmly in two camps. They both believe in you doing what is best for your four-legged companion. Yet, they are diametrically opposed as to the method you need to take. One approach is to avoid and minimize the impact of fireworks. The other method is to apply desensitization methods to decrease or remove the affect.
The Humans Societies, among others, suggest you do not take your pet with you to see the display. They also suggest the following steps:
- Close the windows and blinds to hide the noise and sight of fireworks
- Turn on the lights and make sure they are bright enough to dim the lights from the fireworks
- Turn on the television
- Turn up the radio
- Put your dog in a safe place. This may be the crate. Some dogs will hide in the bathtub. If this is their choice, let the animal be. Do not coax him or her out. Check on them periodically but do not increase the stress level. Do not baby him or her – though this is subject to the temperament of the dog.
- Do not react negatively to the sound of fireworks. If you are jumpy, your dog may also become so. If you are afraid, your dog will follow suit
If you happen to be at a park when a fireworks’ display begins, take your dog home. Do not leave him or her alone in the car.
Desensitize Using Conditioning
Some individuals believe it is better to help your dog become desensitized to the sound and light show of fireworks (and thunder/lightening). The approach is simple.
- Obtain an actual accurate recording and/video of fireworks
- Play it several times daily at a low volume
- Combine the playing of the video/recording with pleasurable things e.g. dog treats, cuddles, meals or toys
- Over several days, slowly increase the volume of the recording/video. Continue to pair this with pleasurable things for your dog
- Do not increase the volume substantially. Be ready to decrease it if your canine exhibits any signs of anxiety, fear or stress
- Continue to implement this method repeatedly daily until your dog is comfortable at high levels of fireworks’ sounds and flashes.
This does not mean you should take your dog to a fireworks’ display. It might, however, reduce the level of anxiety and fear on hearing the sounds erupting nearby.
Never take your dog to a fireworks’ display. Too many factors can result in a stressed, fearful canine. Your dog may panic, flee and become lost. You can reduce the fears by mitigating the entry of any sound or light show into your home. Alternatively, you can try desensitizing conditioning. If successful, you still should NOT take your dog to a fireworks’ display. If your animal is excessively stressed-out - has an actual phobia, only then should you consider anti-anxiety medications.