How to Help Your Dog Get Over a Fear of Fireworks

Just because you enjoy a nice fireworks display doesn't mean your beloved doggy does, too. Most household pets, dogs in particular, are scared by fireworks. I don't know why this phobia is so common but I do know that there are some things you can do to help your dog get over his or her fear of fireworks:

Desensitize Your Dog to the Sound of Fireworks

* Find a video or recording of fireworks.
* Play the video or recording at the lowest possible volume a few times during the day.
* Pair the sound of the fireworks with things your dog likes, such as treats, meals, cuddle time, or a game of tug-of-war.
* Slowly begin to raise the volume of the recording or video over the course of several days, and continue to pair the sound of fireworks with good things for your dog.
* If at any point your dog begins to show signs of fear, turn the volume down to a point where he feels more comfortable.
* Repeat this several times each day until your dog can hear the sounds of the fireworks at a fairly high volume without becoming fearful.

Help Ease Your Dog's Fears

* Don't change your behavior. Many people feel compelled to baby their dogs when the dog is showing signs of fear. We pet them more than usual, cuddle them, and talk to them in soft voices. Rather than easing a dog's fears, however, this often reinforces the dog's fearful behaviors.
* Try not to react to the fireworks yourself. If you jump or tense up when you hear fireworks because you are anticipating your dog's fear, you may make his fear worse. Your body language can tell a dog that there is a reason to be afraid.
* Drown out the sound of the fireworks. Try to turn up the radio or television and keep your windows closed during the fireworks. If the weather permits, a fan or air conditioner (if your dog isn't afraid of those sounds) can help, too.
* Don't push your dog past his comfort zone. Allow him to hide if he feels more comfortable in his crate or under a bed. Don't pull him out or try to force him closer to the fireworks in an attempt to get him used to the sounds. This may result in an increase in fear, and a frightened dog may become aggressive if pushed past his comfort level.

Dealing with a Dog's Severe Fear of Fireworks

In the case of a severe phobia, nothing may work to ease your dog's fear. If there's a chance your dog make exhibit this level of fear, talk to your veterinarian about medication. He may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to keep your dog calm during the fireworks.


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