TIPS TO TEACH YOUR DOG NOT TO REACT TO
FIREWORKS AND THUNDERSTORMS

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Does your dog shake and shiver or bark or hide during a thunderstorm or at the sound of fireworks?  Perhaps your dog even becomes destructive trying to escape the noise.  Here are some tips to help you to prevent or manage your dog's reactions to fireworks, thunderstorms and probably other loud noises.

DO

1. Keep your dog safe and secure inside.  After a thunderstorm, the number of dogs that are picked up as a stray and taken to a shelter increases.  If they are reactive do not try to keep them in a kennel outside.

2. Speak in a happy voice to your dog.  Do not use a sympathetic, "Poor Baby" voice.  Just use a happy tone.  Your happy voice should be combined with fun activities.

3. Play with your dog or do some other activity that they like to do to distract them.  Engage them in happy activities that will keep them from responding negatively to the noises and relate positive activities to the situation.  Play catch; throw a ball or toys for them to fetch.

3. Play music or the TV to cover the sounds.

4. Train your dog to not react to loud noises by playing recordings of fireworks or thunderstorms to get them used to the sounds.  This is called desensitization.  Start out with the sound being low.  Play with them, talk happy and keep them distracted.  If they remain calm, increase the volume and continue to follow this pattern until they completely ignore the noises.

5. You can try other options such as wrapping them in something to snuggle, like a Thundershirt or you might want to try aroma therapy and even medications from your Veterinarian, but we highly recommend behavior modification, yours and the dog's first, because it is better to change the behavior rather than treat the symptoms.

DON'T

1.  Don't take your dog outside during thunderstorms or take them to fireworks displays.  Keep them in the home where the noises are muffled and it is best if you remain at home with them so that they are not alone until you know they will not be reactive. 

2.  Don't cuddle your dog and speak soothingly to it during the fireworks or thunderstorms.  It is difficult to resist comforting your dog when they are distressed, but this will reinforce the anxious or bad behavior and their reactions to the loud noises.  You can pet your dog and let them sit with you as you normally would, just don't hug and hold them while talking in a woeful tone.

                                                                                             Don't

3.  Don't yell at them or try to command them to stop their anxious behavior.  They will not understand what you are angry about and will most likely react even more anxious.

                                                                                                Don't

4.  Don't shut them into a room by themselves or crate them.  They may destroy things in the room and if they are in a crate, it will create a negative response to being in the crate and they may even damage the crate in their panic.

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