My dog is afraid of firecrackers and fireworks, how can I calm him down?


 While some dogs are used to gunshots, the sounds of firecrackers, and fireworks, others experience panic fear of detonations. Know that there are techniques to help a dog better understand this kind of event. Our advice.

Why is your dog afraid of firecrackers and fireworks?

Dogs suffering from acousticophobia (fear of noise) are generally frightened by thunder, storms, fireworks, firecrackers, gunshots ... All noises producing a loud bang cause some dogs to change their behavior. Several reasons explain his attitude:

_The dog cannot understand where the noise is coming from and what it means. In the wild, loud noise is dangerous for all animals. Even though he grew up in the city, the dog keeps his primitive instincts and wants to flee for protection.

_The dog does not have the cognitive faculties to anticipate the phenomenon: tomorrow is July 14, preparing for fireworks is not an argument that the animal can use.

_In the same vein, the dog does not have the possibility of associating noise with a duration. You know the fireworks or firecrackers will end in an hour, but not your pooch for whom these noises are incessant.

What is the fear of firecrackers and fireworks expressed?

Faced with a loud noise, the dog can express his fear in different ways:

_Generally, he will have the reflex to seek refuge in a place where he feels safe: in a corner of the house, a small room such as the bathroom, under furniture ...

_The animal can also frantically scratch walls, howl, tremble, salivate, drool, and even urinate in fear. Dogs bark or become aggressive, run around until they run away from their garden. Failure to remove them, it is possible to reduce these panic behaviors.

How to reassure your dog when firecrackers and fireworks are fired?

Before attempting to act on your dog's behavior, be sure to follow these two basic guidelines:

_ Do not force your pet to put up with fireworks. If you can, don't take him to the shooting scene and leave him alone at home.

_ If you have no choice but to bring him with you, be sure to equip him with his medal which will come in handy in case of a leak. And always keep an eye on him.

_ In your home, close the doors and windows which, at first, will reduce the noise of the detonations and, secondly, prevent the dog from running away if fear grips him.

1. Be neutral when hearing the sounds of firecrackers and fireworks

Dogs spend a lot of their time observing their owners and thus sense anything that agitates them. Some recommendations:

_ Don't change your behavior, pretend the noises aren't abnormal. In order not to amplify his panic, it is essential that your dog feel your peace of mind, as your stress may add to his.

_ Keep your cool, agitation on your part may reinforce her impression that danger is imminent. Therefore, do not scold him, do not yell at him because the reprimands may further distress him, and provoke deviant behavior (eg aggression).

2. Avoid reassuring him during firecrackers and fireworks

Two answers to two scenarios:

_ Your dog is shaking, drooling, fidgeting ... Even if you are tempted to talk to him, cuddle him, give him treats to reassure him, resist the temptation. By pampering it, you associate the noise with an important event; you legitimize his fear, and finally, you reward him with the caress. As a result, you will get the opposite effect from what you expected by increasing his fear of backfiring.

_ Your dog snuggles up to you when he's scared. In this case, do not prevent him because he has found comfort in this technique. However, be completely neutral about his attitude by ignoring him: don't talk to him, don't touch him, don't look at him. In short: we don't scold but we don't stroke either.

3. Make sure your dog is safe from the sounds of firecrackers and fireworks

Most of the time, acousticophobia prompts your dog to take refuge away from the noise and therefore away from windows.

_ In these times of stress, he may go to rooms he does not usually attend (bedrooms, bathroom, etc.). Let him take refuge in the place he chooses, this is the first step towards his appeasement. Remember to turn off the light and leave the door open.

_ The carrier can be an ideal cocoon for your dog during very noisy events such as firecrackers or fireworks. Dark and not too large, this safety zone reserved for its sole use will be likely to reassure him. Leave the gate open so the animal does not feel confined and can move around if needed.

4. Remember to distract your dog from firecrackers and fireworks

Plan activities before, during, and after firecrackers and fireworks:

_ Before the shots, offer your dog an intensive exercise session during which he will relieve himself. This will prevent an "accident" (pee or other) generated by fear.

_ While backfiring, try to distract your dog by playing ball or throwing a stick at him. His thoughts will turn away from the noises, he will relax and associate the shots with a positive event and not with danger.

_ When the fireworks are over, get him to work himself out to relieve the stress accumulated during the shots.

5. Perform desensitization to reduce fear

Ideally, the dog should be accustomed to loud noises from an early age so that he trivializes them. Once he's an adult, the process will take longer. How to do it?

_ Search the internet (or a CD) for thunderstorm sounds, firecrackers, fireworks, gunshots, etc. You will easily find noises that are very close to reality.

_ Make him hear the sounds by starting with low intensity and leaving him free to react.

_ Associate exercise with a positive act, such as a treat or a game.

_ Repeat the maneuver with short, regular sessions and gradually increase the volume of the sound until you see real progress.

Desensitization is a long process. Do not hesitate to seek the help of a canine expert who will be able to guide you through the various steps to put in place.