More dogs go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year!
Some dogs are super sound sensitive. Even the littlest noises can set them off or scare them.
The scary sounds freak many pups out and send them into a panic when being let out for potty breaks or even sneaking past their owners as they come in the house. The pups get a bit disoriented so fear and flight kick into high gear, making an otherwise obedient dog run away from home.
You can prepare your pup ahead of time for summertime noises such as fireworks on the 4th of July, or even thunder, by following these tips.
It’s important to know that you should not try to console a nervous anxious dog like you would a child, otherwise, you’ll accidentally reinforce the fear they have towards the scary loud noises.
If your pup is anxious or nervous do not console them or hold them while telling them “everything is going to be ok.” This is what we would do with a child, but your pup’s brain works just a little bit different.
As a matter of fact, they don’t understand what the phrase “everything is going to be ok” really means. They hear your calm voice that is easily interpreted as a reinforcing tone (opposite of what a correction sounds like).
In addition, when you pet your dog, this is also interpreted as a reward for the right behavior. We don’t want to reward our dogs for being anxious or nervous. What we do want to do is teach them that scary noises mean good things are happening and that there’s nothing to worry about.
Here are the top tips to help calm your pup and prepare them for the BIG BOOMS!
Prepare Your Pup:
1. Teach your pup ahead of time that loud noises mean good things are going to happen by playing fireworks sounds (play a CD or from YouTube) at a low level while they are eating meals. Gradually increase the sound as they get more comfortable with the noises. This should take several training sessions. Do not crank the volume up on day 1 of training.
2. Play the “find it” game while the fireworks CD or YouTube videos are playing. This means you can hide treats around the house ahead of time and encourage your dog to “find it” while the scary noises are playing.
3. Condition your pup to wear a ThundershirtⓇ in case they don’t handle the sound of fireworks going off very well. The Thundershirt is a type of compression shirt for dogs that help calm them down when they are anxious or nervous. You’ll put the shirt on give them a reward and immediately take it off for the first few training sessions. Slowly increase the amount of time your pup wears the shirt over the course of several training sessions. Many dogs take to wearing this compression shirt almost instantly as it really is calming to them.
4. Make sure your pup’s ID tag is on their collar in case they escape. Also, make sure your pup’s microchip is up to date. They may escape out of fear, and you want to make sure they will be returned to you ASAP!
5. Make sure to take a current photo of your pup in case you have to report them as missing, you’ll have a current photo to share with local shelter groups and on your social media accounts.
6. Make sure to leave your pup at home if you’re going out to watch the fireworks as this really is an overwhelming time for most dogs!
Calm Your Pup:
If your pup already has a fear of fireworks (or other loud noises) you can manage the experience by following these tips:
1. Exercise your dog thoroughly throughout the day so that during the evening fireworks show they will have less anxious nervous energy to expel.
2. Use food dispensing toys or puppy puzzle toys to engage your pup and keep them occupied with positive activities while the scary noises happen outside.
3. Play calming music at a higher volume to help soothe your frantic furry friend. You can find calming music on YouTube.
4. Keep your pup in a covered crate in the most soundproof room in your house, for most people this is in the basement. Make sure to give your pup a busy toy like a frozen filled KongⓇ while they are in their crate.
5. Try using CBD oil or even DAP (dog appeasing pheromones) to help calm your pup.
Once the festivities are over make sure to check your yard for any debris that may have landed in your area. Many times fireworks end up going further than anticipated or in the wrong direction and end up in people’s yards. Check your yard before sending your pup out so your pup can avoid accidental ingestion.
Tell me in the comments below, is your pup afraid of loud scary noises like fireworks or thunder?