The best defence is a good offence. This awesome piece of advice believe it or not works wonders with dogs, especially those who are anxious around loud noises. Being able to predict what your dog is going to do before he does it, like how he may react to a sudden BOOM, will help to curb the behaviour. That means being aware of your dog and their surroundings to prevent negative behaviours so that you don’t have to correct them. Always be 10 steps ahead of them. Easy enough, right?
Sometimes it is! You may not be able to predict thunderstorms (nor rely on weather reporters for any help) but you can prepare yourself and your dog for when there will be fireworks. On holiday long weekends you can expect there will be fireworks that light up the sky once it’s dark out. The loud noises accompanied by such a beautiful sight can be frightening for your furry friend. Dogs may pace, shake, become destructive, or even run away. No one wants to see their pet in distress, so what exactly can you do?
Keep your dog indoors and whatever you do, fight the urge to caudal your dog! I cannot stress this enough. Petting and telling him, “it’s okay buddy” actually reinforces the dog’s anxious reaction. Instead of comforting him, you are confirming that the dog is reacting appropriately. You have now trained your dog to be frightened of loud noises. Instead, be proactive and exhaust your dog well before the fireworks go off. If your dog usually goes for an hour walk a day, go for a 3 hour hike! Tire your dog out so that he won’t even notice the sounds. During the fireworks it is important that you stay calm yourself. If you are startled by the sounds your dog will think he is supposed to do the same. Dogs pick up very easily on our energy so if you are frightened it will rub off on your dog. Try playing loud music to drown out the sound and distract you both.
Always remember that being proactive helps and you can even prepare your dog for certain situations before they happen. If you have a puppy and you don’t want him to be startled by loud noises, try desensitizing him to the sounds by playing thunderstorms and firework clips off the internet in your own home when he is in a calm, relaxed state. Act normally and if you remain calm your dog will too. Walking your puppy on busy streets where there are buses, cars honking, and kids on skateboards are also ways to socialize your dog and expose them to unpredictable sounds that could spook them later in life if they are not used to them.
Try out these methods this Victoria Day when the fireworks sound. Hope you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable long weekend!