Planning for New Year’s – Fireworks and Your Dog

Dog owners’ guide to preparing your pup for New Year’s

Not all dogs are as fearless as the next and quite frankly, every dog has something they just don’t like the sound, smell, or the look of. Sometimes it’s a noisy vacuum cleaner cleaning the rug or even a loud motorcycle going down the road. In the case of sight and smell, walls and windows tend to block them out, but sound is renowned for its uncanny ability to travel through everything.

During the New Year’s celebration, one of the most notorious fears is the sound of fireworks. While the visuals may be attractive, the sound is not always so very appealing to our dogs and their sensitive hearing. This raises the question of how an owner should accommodate their pet’s fear. Do you let your dog remain afraid and work to make them comfortable or do you try to help them get over that fear? Not all dogs respond the same to their fears; some bark warnings or chase, while others flee under the bed to seek comfort.

Get your dog used to the sounds

The most effective approach is to desensitize your dog to certain noises. In most cases, this will help with other sound related issues as well. Just like a thunderstorm, the sound of fireworks is the most unappealing part of fireworks for your dog. Basically, it is noise that they cannot place a paw on, so to say. What they can’t see tends to frighten them the most, primarily because they can’t associate it with any reasonable source.

So, as your dog’s owner and protector, you are responsible for giving them a reason not to fear the noise. Counter-conditioning or desensitizing programs are the best way to help them adjust to the noise. There are pre-made soundtracks available, but all you really need is a sound recording of fear-inducing noise. Start by playing it at low intervals while relaxing or interacting positively with your dog. Then, slowly increase the volume over time. Keep in mind that this is not an overnight procedure, so don’t expect your dog to turn over a new leaf immediately. Don’t leave your dog alone with the sound recording on. Remain with them and help them associate the sound with good things.

A secure environment

In other cases, you may find it necessary to simply allow your dog to find a place where they feel secure and ride out the experience. Not every dog responds the same to desensitizing methods, so it’s best to provide them with an accommodating atmosphere. A crate that your dog associates as their den is often the best solution to this predicament. Make sure that they have all of their effects, such as water and toys to play with.

Background and white noise to block out the sound is a great tool to help keep their minds occupied on other things. This can be derived from a turned up radio or television set that will drown out the sound of fireworks.

Interacting with fireworks

When it comes to interaction, refrain from punishing your dog for fleeing or hiding. Avoid dragging them out and forcing them to face the fear. It’s best to let them be frightened and provide an area where they can retreat to, such as a crate or den, where they can feel safe. However, it is important that you don’t cuddle them either. This would only teach them that it’s good to be scared and that it will get a rewarding response from you. Just let them respond as they naturally would and help them figure out that it’s safe on their own.

Protecting your dog from the possible dangers

Additionally, it is important to keep them away from the physical dangers of fireworks. This applies to sound especially. Fireworks can hurt a dog’s hearing, such as fire-crackers or bottle rockets which create a “boom” effect. I’m sure that even people cover their ears when some types of fireworks go off, so keep in mind that a dog’s hearing is at least ten times as sensitive.

Unbeknownst to many, the powder in fireworks contains nitrates, which are known to generate headaches when consumed or handled. Don’t allow your dog to have access to any fireworks, even if they’re just inspecting them with a few sniffs.

As a loving dog owner, it is your task to begin preparing your pup for the upcoming celebrations. Be sure they have a safe place where they can feel secure during the celebration as well. After all, you never know how they’ll react to the experience.

Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember.  After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again.  Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!

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