Dogs and fireworks can be a scary and tragic combination. How will your dog cope with this coming July 4th? Is he a trooper like a hunting dog and not affected by the sound of fireworks or gun shots?
Or does your dog crawl into your lap or hide in the farthest and darkest corner of your walk-in closet?
Having a dog that has been properly desensitized to the loud sound of fireworks is one thing; however, dogs and fireworks are not a good combination in many homes. I think for most dogs and especially puppies, fireworks can be a scary and tragic combination.
This can result in dog behavior problems like dogs digging or destructive chewing in dogs.
Worse yet, the overwhelming loud and scary noise can trigger their flight instinct causing dogs to escape from their back yard.
Many escape without dog tags or even a collar and are tragically lost forever.
If your dog is afraid of fireworks like my first dog Charlie was, there are many ways to ease your dog’s stress during fireworks.
This July 4th take steps to insure your dog is as safe as possible by doing the following things I found worked for Charlie:
Make sure that identification tags are on your dog. It’s the safe and right thing to do. In the event your dog does get out, he will be easily identified. I’ve always put my name and phone number on the tag instead of my dog’s name – for safety.
Having a safe, comfortable and familiar retreat prepared at home for your dog to go to during the fireworks is important especially if your dog is fearful, nervous or anxious.
If you know your dog doesn’t like fireworks and you are going to be away, make sure where ever he stays, with friends or relatives, is as far away from the sound of fireworks as possible.
In further preparation for the fireworks, exercising your dog before the fireworks begin is a good way to constructively manage his energy. The less pent up energy he has to displace, the better.
Creating a calm dog with exercise will help him set his own mood for the evening.
Distracting your dog with fun games like doggie puzzles or food dispensing toys can help take their mind off fireworks.
If your dog loves interactive games with you, then alternate a good game of fetch or tug-of-war with puzzles. Doing obedience training is also a good diversion from the sound of fireworks.
I found that playing Charlie’s favorite game of fetch was a great diversion for him. And with Charlie, if he was fetching, he wasn’t thinking about the noise!
Even if your dog already knows his commands, re-introduce high value food treats for 2 minutes of rapid-fire sits, downs, high-fives and roll-overs or any other trick your dog already knows.
Remember to keep training fun and upbeat as you repeat the drills 3-4 times throughout the evening.
Drowning out the sound of fireworks with music specifically designed to calm dogs is also a great idea. The book, “Through a Dog’s Ear” comes with a CD with just such music. Start this music before the fireworks begin to set a calm mood for the evening.
Thunder Shirts or Anxiety Wraps are designed to calm dogs by providing a swaddling comfort for your dog.
How you feel during the fireworks creates your energy. Your dog interprets your energy. Communicating calm energy better ensures your dog will be calm.
And with the exercise mentioned above, a tired, calm dog will be more receptive to a positive interpretation of your calm energy.
Once the boom and the bang of the celebration is over, your dog will be grateful for you having made it as much of a stress-free evening as possible. I hope you and your dog have a pleasant and enjoyable 4th of July.
Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim’s Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to going from a bratty dog to a behaved dog. Grab them now.
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.