The Fourth of July is so fun. It's a season of grilling out, spending days on the lake in the summer sun, and of course, fireworks. Many dogs are disturbed by the noises and the lights from fireworks, and some are downright terrified. So, as a pet owner who wants the best for your petrified pooch, what can you do?
Preventing your pup from becoming terrified of fireworks is all about your reaction. If they hear the noise and start shaking, whining, or begging to sit in your lap, coddling them isn't going to make it better. In fact, it just might make the behavior worse. Instead, carry on with your normal activities like there's nothing going on outside. It's okay to give them a quick pat and tell them it's they're going to be fine, but don't make a big deal out of it. Think of a child when she falls. Most of the time, if it's just a scraped knee they look to you to see how they should react. If you make a big deal and cry, "Oh my goodness? Are you okay? You look hurt!" chances are, they'll turn on the waterworks. If your child falls and you pick them up, brush them off, and tell them to go ahead and get back to playing, they'll most likely do just that. In this case, it's the same for our pets. Coddling them teaches them that they do have something to be afraid of, and not only that, but it rewards them for being afraid. They'll associate your attention with their fear, and that behavior can escalate dramatically. Teach them at a young age that fireworks are no big deal, and you'll be better off in the long run.
If they can't get their mind off of what's happening outside, try distracting them with some training. Practice the commands that they know, and focus on your interaction like it's a normal, quiet evening at home. Often, we think of body language as an outward sign of what's happening in the mind. However, did you know that we can also use body language to change our thinking? If you can encourage your dog to stay sitting with their head held high, that helps the brain become more confident.
If you aren't going to be home with your pets make sure they're safe in the house. Close all the doors and windows. Shut the blinds. Try crating them if they're crate trained, and turn on some background noise (like some music or a television). Even if your pup is used to being outside, or if you have a fenced in backyard, don't leave them out. More pets get lost around the Fourth of July than any other time of the year, make sure yours isn't one of them!
Looking for more training information or help solving some problem behaviors? We have classes available for every age and every training level. Contact us today!