I know it’s only June but now is the time to start preparing Fido for the 4th. Many dogs, young and old, are terrified of the fireworks the July holiday brings and with a little planning your dog can be ready for the grand finale.
- Desensitize and counter condition your dog. Buy a fireworks CD and begin playing it each day. Start with the volume low and play during meal and play times. You can also give your dog a treat each time a firework explodes on the CD. During the grand finale be sure to have many small treats ready so you can reward your dog rapidly. Each day turn the volume up a little more. It is important to use high value treats, not the usual kibble or dry biscuits, during this training. Try pea size pieces of chicken or cheese.
- If your dog is crate trained and happiest in his den use the crate while playing the CD in preparation for the real thing (you can also use a small room). On the 4th leave your dog in her safe space with a peanut butter stuffed and frozen Kong or another tasty and long-lasting treat. Close windows and leave the radio or TV on to help drown out the sound. Try an herbal anti-anxiety blend such as Animals’ Apawthecary Tranquility or Dog Appeasing Pheromone spray or plug-in to help her relax.
- If you don’t feel your dog can stay home alone during the show ask a friend or relative to watch your dog or take him to his favorite doggy daycare for playtime. If your dog absolutely panics each year when the fireworks start another option is to plan a trip to a quiet area for the day to avoid the noise. No matter where you spend the 4th make sure she has ID tags on and is in a secure area before the start of the fireworks. A large number of dogs run away on this holiday when they become afraid.
- Some dogs are incredibly afraid of fireworks and have an extreme reaction such as trying to break through doors and windows or destroying the house. Counter conditioning can be a very slow process with these guys and it may be best to see your veterinarian for medication to get him through the day.
- Remember it is easiest to teach a puppy not to fear loud noises instead of waiting for a fear to develop. Spend your pups first 4th in an area where he can hear the fireworks (but not too close) and reward each time one explodes. Use high value treats.
A little prevention now will go a long way to ensure your dog is celebrating alongside you for years to come.