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

Okay, let's not waste time going into all the reasons why your dog reacts to fireworks or thunderstorms.  If you are reading this, you want to know how to prevent or manage your dog's reactions to fireworks, thunderstorms and probably other loud noises, so let's go right to the do's and don'ts of handling your dog.

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.

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.

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.

 

DO

1.  Keep your dog safely 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, keep them safe at home with you there to keep them calm.

2.  Speak in a happy voice to your dog.  This is not a woeful, "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 if the thunder or fireworks are not too close.

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.  Our experience of these other methods are that they are not very effective or they have negative side effects.

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