This time of year brings lots of festivities such as Christmas carols and New Year’s Eve celebrations that often include fireworks. Lots of fun for us humans but not so fun for our furry friends.
Roughly one in five dogs have a phobia of fireworks, which means these dogs will become incredibly fearful. Frightened dogs are unpredictable creatures and can become aggressive at the slightest stimuli. The first and most important rule for dealing with a frightened canine companion is to be cautious. Just because you have known your dog for years and he or she has never done anything aggressive toward you before doesn’t mean he or she won’t lash out under stress.
One of the best things to do in order to prepare for these situations is to know your dog. How does he or she react to loud noises? Some dogs get as close to their owners as possible for protection, others may run off to a little hiding spot they have in the house, many choose to bark back at the fireworks and vocalize their fears, and those especially frightened may end up doing any number of things.
If this is your first Christmas and New Year’s Eve with your dog or if you are simply looking for some ideas on keeping your dog safe during the holiday season, continue reading for our top tips.
- Do not take your dog to any events that may have fireworks. Their ears are much more sensitive than ours. This makes the popping of fireworks more painful than entertaining to them. Many dogs have a natural flight instinct that causes them to take off for sometimes kilometres due to loud noises like fireworks.
- Do not leave your dog outside if there is a chance of fireworks. He or she may not find a way out of the yard but could get hurt trying to escape the noise. If you know about firework displays ahead of time, try to find a secure and quiet place for your dog.
- Do not scold a scared dog. Yelling at him or her to quiet down or sit still will only make the situation worse. The opposite, trying to sooth or cuddle your dog, won’t help either. Dogs don’t understand reassurance and instead see you as reinforcing their behaviour. Instead, start off by being calm yourself and acting as if the fireworks mean nothing to you; your dog will feed off of your behaviour. Be sure to praise your dog when you see them being calm and this will help reinforce that wanted behaviour.
- Try keeping your dog distracted from the noise by playing games or doing some training. Use treats as a reward for sitting, staying or doing tricks.
- You can also speak to your vet about possible medications to help treat your dog’s phobia and help to calm them during the festivities.
With your help, your dog can get through Christmas, New Year’s Eve and any other celebrations involving loud noises and fireworks with ease. All it takes is a little preparation and know how and lots of love!