Tips to help your dog cope with fireworks and thunderstorms
It is very common for dogs to be sensitive to loud noises, including fireworks and thunderstorms. While a certain degree of fear during big bangs is normal to keep dogs away from danger, if this fear gets worse it can become very stressful and unhealthy for you and your dog.
How will you know if your dog is afraid of loud noises? Take a look at their behaviour. Your dog will try to tell you that they are nervous or afraid with their body language.
Signs to watch for include:
shaking or trembling
Knowing your dog’s triggers and the signs of fear and anxiety are important for good pet ownership.
So what can you do?
If you plan well in advance, you can help your dog tolerate loud noises with a gradual desensitization program. For example, exposing your dog to sounds of fireworks or thunder storms, day after day, increasing the volume progressively, and rewarding your dog when he manages to calm down.
This can take quite a long time, so it's best to start working on sound desensitization long before or after firework and thunderstorm season.
A few days before anticipated events, there are still many things you can do!
The best way to prepare your dog to cope with sound sensitivities is to think like a dog.
Your dog feels scared because they are alarmed by the loud noises of the fireworks or thunder, but they don't understand that these noises can't harm them. That’s why they feel safer when they have a hiding spot. You can help by making your dog a ‘safe haven’ or a ‘dog den’. If your dog already has a favourite hiding place then this space can be used making it as snug and secure for your dog as possible by adding blankets or bedding.
If you're making your ‘dog den’ from scratch, try to do this a few weeks in advance so that your dog knows it is a safe place when thunder storms and fireworks start.