Rain, Storms, and Fireworks, Oh My!!!

Dog looking through window blinds - Dogs and FireworksBy Michele L. Meyer

Please follow these safety tips during firework seasons:

  • NEVER bring your dogs to an event that will be displaying fireworks. This would be an extremely scary event for dogs and the loud noise could trigger them to pull free from the leash and run away.
  • Be sure to keep your dogs safely confined in your home while fireworks are being set off. Do not let them roam free in your yard, even if it is fully fenced. Many dogs break out of their fenced yards in panic when fireworks are set off and then continue to run in fear of the loud noise.

Is your dog afraid of storms or fireworks?   

  • Many dogs feel relief by having an area in the house to go to where the noise and light exposure is less. You could also try keeping the lights on and turning on a radio, television, and/or an exhaust fan to help drown out some of the noise.
  • Many of our clients have seen stress reduction in their dogs with use of a pressure wrap such as a Thundershirt and/or a  DAP spray/diffuser.
  • You CAN comfort your dog. This will not reinforce the fear. It is however best not to “baby” your dog. Try sitting down next to your dog and slowly and calmly petting him. Try not talking to your dog unless you find it helps him to calm down. If you do talk to your dog, do so in a calm and soothing voice.

Did you know there is training that can be done to help dogs overcome these fears and anxieties?

You could first try getting a video or audio recording of storms or fireworks and play it at a very low volume at which your dog is NOT nervous. After five minutes or so, turn it up very gradually. Turn it back down if your dog starts to act nervous and then play it at a lower volume for a while longer before trying to turn it back up again. Continue doing this until you can play the sounds at a loud volume without your dog being nervous.  This training approach is called desensitizing and for some dogs this is enough, but not for all.  

You could also try teaching your dog that these events mean something fun is going to happen…but be careful with this approach.  If your dog does not respond right away, it’s best to seek expert help before proceeding because your dog could become afraid of the “fun thing” (e.g. treats, toys, games, etc) because he thinks the “fun thing” means the scary thing is going to happen.  For fun things to do with your dog inside, check out our article with inside dog games and for lots more ways to exercise your dog indoors…check out our Fun Fit Fido training program.

Fear usually gets worse overtime if not addressed. Please contact us if you would like to set up training to help your dogs overcome their fear of fireworks, storms, or other stressful situations.