Tips for dogs with a fear of fireworks.
For many people, the coming period is a time full of celebrations, fun and being together. Unfortunately, this is different for our four-legged friends. Very many dogs have a fear of fireworks and some are so scared that both their physical and physical condition deteriorates. They become completely stressed and try to run away or hide in panic. Also, setting off fireworks near your dog can create a traumatic experience, which then leads to an anxiety disorder or separation anxiety.
We have listed some tips to help your dog through this difficult period:
Don't leave your dog alone at home
It is very important to be there for your dog when he is anxious so you can offer support. You can comfort your dog by sitting next to him or sitting on his lap and petting him quietly. If your dog is home alone during fireworks, your dog may develop separation anxiety.
Give your dog a safe place to 'hide'
Many dogs who are afraid of fireworks will prefer to hide themselves during the popping. This is okay! Let your dog find a place where he feels safer and let him lie there quietly. You can also help your dog by, for example, guiding him or her to the table and letting him or her lie under it. Also under the stairs or in the bathroom is often a place where they feel safer.
Never punish your dog, but provide distractions
Your dog will not understand any of this. In fact, the fear will be confirmed and the unwanted behaviour will worsen. If your dog barks due to fear of fireworks, you will not stop this by punishing your dog. Barking and growling at fireworks has a self-rewarding effect. Your dog thinks that by barking he is making the bang stop. What your dog doesn't realise is that the bang always stops because this is just how fireworks work. Your dog needs to learn that he doesn't have to bark or growl to make the fireworks stop. During the popping of the fireworks, try to distract your dog with something fun and/or something tasty. Timing is important here. The aim is for your dog to start associating the fireworks with something positive, such as getting something he really likes. Bang = I get something tasty! In this way, you can gradually teach your dog that fireworks are not a threat. Be patient with this and persevere. It will take some time before your dog is ready. Keep rewarding your dog when he has made the positive association to maintain the good behaviour. This can be slowly phased out over time.
Dogs can become unreachable due to stress. They block completely and you as an owner can no longer get through to them. As a result, they are unable to learn new things and make positive associations. You can support your dog by using stress-reducing aids. This can be in the form of medication, but there are also other attributes available such as, for example, a RelaxoPet, which helps calm your dog through sound waves.
This blog was written by our guest blogger and also colleague Nathalie Ter Horst. She is training to become a dog behaviourist.