When July 14 arrives, you are both delighted because after all, it is a public holiday and in general the weather is pretty, and at the same time anxious at the idea that your dog is afraid of panic shots fireworks.
Why is my dog afraid of fireworks?
Know that if your dog is afraid of firecrackers, fireworks, sirens, etc. this is completely normal because:
- the dog does not have the intellectual faculties to understand where the noise comes from and what it means. Indeed, the dog only equates noise (so loud and intense) to a danger, whatever it is! Numerous potentially unwanted behaviors then arise from the feeling of danger.
- The dog also does not have the cognitive capacity to anticipate and prepare for the event. And yes, you will understand that the dog does not have the same capacities as us and therefore cannot say to itself “ok, in two days it is the fireworks, I must anticipate”. It would be so much simpler.
- Finally, the dog does not have the means either (decidedly) to associate the noise with a particular event. Indeed, you, you know that these noises will not last forever because you know that the fireworks usually lasts only an hour maximum. On the other hand, your dog does not know him absolutely what these noises correspond to and therefore cannot say to himself “go, more than a quarter of an hour and I am calm”.
How does fear / panic result from fireworks?
Personally, my dog H, 5 years old, has a panic fear of fireworks, firecrackers, and even of my cast iron radiators which snap when the heating starts. And for his case, the fear manifests itself in only one way: to snuggle against me while trembling!
There are different manifestations of fear, some dogs will bark, others will take refuge in a corner, some will even become aggressive, run in all directions, try to flee at all costs, when others will be done on it for example… You will understand, it is very varied and specific to each.
The only thing to remember is that a dog who is afraid can express it in several ways and that it is up to you to make sure that this feeling of fear is, if not removed, at least soothed and decreased.
How to reassure your dog during fireworks fire?
- Above all, do not try to reassure your dog by petting him because by doing this, you reward (by caress, soft voice, etc.) the behavior generated by fear. This amounts to reinforcing the fear of the dog during fireworks.
- Do not shout at his dog when he is afraid, it would stress him more and the more the dog is afraid, the more deviant behaviors can appear, such as re-directed aggression for example.
- You can try to distract your dog during fireworks displays. Try playing with him so that he can relax and associate the shots with something positive. We will also talk about desensitization in more depth in the fourth part of this article.
- Allow him to “hide”, to take refuge in a corner so that he can feel safe.
- Do not force your dog to “accept” the fireworks. If you have a choice, prefer not to take your dog to the shooting site and leave him quietly at home.
- Remember to close doors and windows to prevent your dog from running away. Indeed, out of fear, dogs often have the instinct to flee. So be careful to prevent your dog from endangering himself. (Remember to equip your dog with his medal to put the odds on your side if he ever runs away).
To come back to my personal experience, when H snuggles against me when he is afraid, I do not scold him, I do not caress him, but I do not prevent him from doing so either. Let me explain: if my dog has found this technique to reassure himself: so be it. On the other hand, I do not reinforce this behavior by caressing it or speaking to it calmly. No, I ignore it, and show myself confident. I remind you that ignoring your dog means not talking to him, touching him or looking at him.
If my dog perceives fear in me, he will understand that his behavior and his feeling of fear are legitimate and have reason to be. Whereas if I show myself completely neutral in front of his attitude, that will not reinforce it. However, if sticking to me makes him feel better, so be it!
However, if this behavior bothers me, if I am busy with something else or if I want to be quiet, then I redirect my dog to another behavior such as going in his place for example. Do not hesitate to consult our article dedicated to learning “to the basket”.
What I am telling you there is good if we are present during fireworks. On the other hand, if (as I advised you a little above), you decide to leave your dog alone at home during the fireworks, but you still decided to participate in the event, only god knows what your doggie could do to exteriorize his fear and his feeling of insecurity? So let’s see how to make your dog no longer afraid of the sounds of fireworks.
How to prepare your dog for fireworks, firecrackers?
Unfortunately some dogs will always be afraid of identifiable elements, often because they do not “meet” them regularly enough (like fireworks fire for example, which generally only happen once or twice a year. ).
However, there are two or three tips that can help a dog to better understand this kind of event.
Tip # 1: desensitization
You “just” desensitize your dog to the noises that usually frighten him. Of course, it is best to do this habituation at a very young age, and this regularly so that it is considered something “normal” for your dog.
Here is what to do to accustom your dog to noise, whether puppy or adult dog: find on the internet (or other) sounds of alarms, sirens, firecrackers, etc. and instantly pair them with something positive (like a treat for example). Do this over short sessions but repeated regularly over time.
The work of desensitization is a delicate process and above all very progressive, so do not hesitate to call on a professional of education and canine behavior so that he can help you in the various steps to put in place.
Tip # 2: Secure it
A dog will always need throughout his life a refuge, a place where he knows that he can be quiet and that we will not bother him: his basket!
You must allow your dog to take refuge there whenever he is uncomfortable. Often, when a dog is tired of playing with children or if he is justly afraid of an external element, he will put himself in his basket, and that is a very good thing.
And to be sure that your dog considers his basket as his refuge area, you must:
- place the basket in a quiet place, without too many passages,
- never go and disturb the dog when it is in his basket, even if it is to pet him,
- teach him that his basket is a positive place: with treats and toys for example,
- make your place comfortable and cozy.
Besides, the transport cage can be an excellent refuge for your dog during unusual events such as fireworks, think about it and consult our article on the transport cage.
Tip # 3: Spend It
Before and after the fireworks: offer your dog a good expense. Before, so that he does his business and so he avoids repainting the living room for fear, and after so that he can let off steam and release the stress that he will have accumulated during the shots.
Tip n ° 4: help him to calm down
Do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice, who can prescribe mild painkillers for your dog. You can also use more natural means like Bach Flowers to allow your dog to live this moment better.
Be careful all the same, that is not all, always take care to respect the previous points in addition.