Summer is coming and the July 14 fireworks with it. It means lots of fun, parties, camping, seaside, but also…. fireworks. Although these can be so beautiful, many dogs and other animals are afraid of fireworks. Does it also affect your dog? He/she is certainly not alone! Various studies have shown that approximately 49% of all dogs show at least one fear signal when they hear fireworks. A 2013 study indicates that approximately 25% of dogs are severely affected. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do now to make New Year’s Eve more comfortable for your loyal friend.
Do not punish your dog if he is anxious!
You cannot reduce an emotion such as fear by punishing it. Think about yourself and your own fears. If you’re scared because you can’t escape a giant spider or a swarm of wasps, will you be less scared if I start yelling at you and slapping you? I don’t think so… Moreover, you break the bond of trust and add unpleasant stimuli to an already very unpleasant situation. This can only aggravate your dog’s fear response at the time. What he certainly won’t do is take away his fear. On the contrary.
Don’t ignore your dog
Unfortunately, this is still regularly recommended. The hypothesis is that if you pay attention to a dog when he’s anxious, you’re actually rewarding him for his “unwanted” behavior. If there’s one thing you take away from this blog, I want it to be this. You can NOT reward fear. This is not how your dog’s brain works. When your dog is anxious, he goes into survival mode. When he’s in survival mode, all the processes necessary for survival are activated. So your dog really isn’t busy with “oh, if I’m very anxious, then I get a lot of attention.” Imagine that your baby is crying because he has just been scared. A balloon exploded next to him or a very scary clown stood next to him (I’m not afraid of clowns) I really hope your answer is NO. You will comfort your baby and provide security, safety and support. A “secure attachment” is extremely important for the social development of children but also of dogs. If you ignore your dog when he needs you most, the relationship between you and your dog will be broken. And since he is not used to this behavior (ignoring you) (I assume), he will start chasing you. then even more. So what should you do? Support your dog with your presence. If your dog feels more comfortable resting his head on your shoe or lap, allow it. If your dog likes it, pet it slowly. Don’t comfort the dog too much or talk to him too much, as this can make him more nervous. And that brings me to my next point.
Stay calm !
Dogs are social animals and look for information in their environment among their family members. If you stay calm, your dog will partly copy it. If you are also nervous and tense, this can confirm to your dog that there is indeed something to worry about.
Turn on the radio or television at a normal volume.
This is to reduce the contrast between the bangs and the surrounding noise. If everything is calm and suddenly a balloon bursts behind you, you will be shocked. If Metallica is playing loud on the radio and that same balloon pops up behind you, it will have a lot less impact. Just make sure your dog has no problem with the music itself. Research has shown that talk radio, podcasts, or classical music can calm dogs in a kennel environment. But dogs are individuals and develop their own preferences, dogs are known to have a better effect of reggae, lounge or even Metal 😉 .
Close windows, doors and curtains.
We want to exclude as much noise and light as possible. We also want to prevent the dog from escaping at all costs. Also, make sure he has his ID tags on and is chipped in case he escapes. Also check with the DogID chip database if your chip details are public, so that you, the owner, can be located and contacted more quickly. Vets, shelters and the police will always have access to your contact details
Plan escape routes in the house
As humans, we are often tempted to sit all around the dog when he is very frightened. Or to slip into his basket and hug him tight. However, this limits the dog’s ability to escape and can make the fear worse. So make sure that your dog always has the choice to move where he wants in the room. This also means that you should not lock him in his cage.
Try distracting your dog by playing
If your dog is uncomfortable but not overly anxious, he may sometimes indulge in play. If so, you can distract him by playing. It also ensures that a positive experience is linked to the fireworks.
Rooms with few windows are generally preferred.
Dogs often prefer the bathroom or basement during fireworks. This is because there are usually small windows or no windows in these rooms. The larger the window, the further the sound waves can propagate.
Don’t leave your dog alone
If you know your dog is afraid of fireworks, don’t leave him alone! Many dogs do this better if the owner is present. Also, your dog can do some very crazy things in his panic. He can seriously injure himself or destroy objects in the house while trying to escape.
Do not give medicines in which acepromazine is the active ingredient!
Some dogs may need medical support, but whatever you give, DO NOT give acepromazine.
I have lots of other tips to ease your dog’s fear of fireworks, but more importantly I can teach you how to help your dog overcome this fear. By next year, you can enjoy the New Year together or you can celebrate the New Year somewhere else. How? With the help of my brand new online mini-course. You’ll go through it in about 2 hours and then you’ll be armed with all the knowledge you need to make a difference for your dog.