Loud noises, fireworks, and sudden unexpected sounds can be a scary experience for your dog! Threatening and shocking, most dogs will instinctively be afraid of fireworks, and display a sensitivity to sound.
If your furry friend is hiding, panting, trembling, cowering, vocalising, or is restless when loud noises are nearby - they’re trying to tell you that “something’s wrong!”.
So why are fireworks noises so much worse for dogs? And what can you do to make fireworks seem less scary, and calm your dog?
1. Train Your Dog
Fireworks and other loud noises are frightening for a number of reasons; they’re unpredictable and loud!
However, training your dog to accept scary or unusual noises is an important step that can help them overcome their fear.
Ideally, training your dog to feel calm around noise should begin when they are a puppy. A noise soundtrack or recording is one of the best ways to desensitise your dog. If you choose this option:
- Start slowly! Play sounds at a low volume and reward your dog when they react calmly or ignore the noises
- If your dog responds well, slowly increase the volume (over time) and continue to reward calm behaviour
- If your dog reacts badly - always stop! The next time you train them, go back a step and reduce the volume a little
It’s important to never train your dog during a fireworks display or other loud event, such as a thunderstorm. They already have enough to think about!
Instead, keep your pet inside, and comfort and distract them to reduce stress.
2. Mask the sound and distract
The sudden surprise of a firework and the sound of the explosion is sure to make anyone jump, especially your dog!
But if you can mask the sounds with background noise, such the radio or television, it can limit those jitters. A silent house will make fireworks seem much worse!
It also helps to keep your furry friend inside and block some of the noise by closing windows and doors, and drawing the curtains. This will also hide any bright fireworks flashes - which can be an additional fear trigger.
Of course, love and affection are some of the best distractions! Be sure to comfort your dog with treats, toys, play or anything else they find enjoyable.
However, remember that it’s best to only reward calm behaviour. As tempting as it is, do not give treats or attention when your doggo is hiding, whining or barking. Even though you may want to comfort them, this could make things worse and reinforce their reaction.
3. Create a Comforting Environment
When your dog is afraid, they want to find a familiar space where they can feel safe. So be sure they have somewhere to go when they can hear fireworks. This might be their crate or bed, or a place with all their favourite toys and belongings. Take a look at this blog and try building a den for your dog.
Calming Solutions for Firework Fears
Using an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser will also help to create a more reassuring environment. Ahead of any fireworks event, be sure to plug in the diffuser close your dog’s safe space. This will send them comforting messages, reinforce that safe haven and provide a constant ‘secure’ feeling.
Using an ADAPTIL Calm On-the-go Collar can also help your dog feel comfortable during loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms. It can also encourage them to deal with fearful situations outdoors, and during training sessions.
Wrap your dog with love in a ThunderShirt - ThunderShirt provides gentle, calming pressure around your dog’s torso, much like swaddling a baby. This is proven to help soothe their anxiety when fireworks are happening.
Fast-acting ADAPTIL Chews, are a delicious and soft tasty chew composed of calming ingredients. Give 30 mins before the expected stressful event to help your dog in times of increased stress.
Following these tips should help your pooch feel much more relaxed the next time they hear loud noises and fireworks! However, if your dog remains anxious and struggles to adapt, be sure to consult your vet for additional advice.