Tuesday, 16 August 2022
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Dog Gone Problems: Helping dogs get over a fear of fireworks

Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com.

Dog Gone Problems,

Every year we dread the Independence Day celebrations that go on due to our dog‚Äôs fear of fireworks. He runs around the house looking for a place to hide but none of them give him any relief. It’s so heartbreaking to see our dog suffering this way. We have tried everything ‚ÄĒ playing music loudly, constant petting, a thunder shirt, calming pills, scented oils and even drugs from the vet. Nothing works. What can we do to help our poor dog so he can stop feeling so scared and anxious for the weeks surrounding the Fourth of July each year?

Hi Alison,

Since it’s the Fourth of July, this question couldn‚Äôt be more timely. Unfortunately, the permanent solution I am about to share to help any dog get over a fear of fireworks needs to be started about a month or more before people shoot off fireworks in your area. So before I share the secret to helping dogs get over a fear of fireworks for good, let me share four tips to help your dog this year.

1. Don’t pet your dog when he is scared. When you pet, your dog assumes that anything he is doing at the time is why you are petting him. So if you pet a jumping dog, he or she will jump more. Pet a scared dog and you will amplify his or her fears. Instead, touch and leave your hand on the dog without moving it. Dogs associate touch with love.

2. Increase your dog’s exercise. This can be done early in the day when no fireworks are being set off. Your average dog needs an hour of exercise every day. Try to get in a few walks, a couple games of fetch, dogskiing or other ways to exercise your dog on days when people shoot off fireworks.

3. Get a few really high-value chew items. These can be things¬†like Marrow Bones, Bully Sticks, Cow kneecaps, etc., ‚ÄĒ things your dog can chew on and ingest. Dogs chew to calm and sooth themselves, so getting some really high-value chew items like this can help.

4. Create some white noise. Find an area insulated from the outside and run a fan to create some white noise while also playing classical or light, down-tempo music.

To help your dog get over the fear of the sight, sound or smell of fireworks, watch this video we send to people who take our fear of fireworks classes.

Good luck and remember ‚ÄĒ everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.

Source: https://www.omaha.com/momaha/dog-gone-problems-helping-dogs-get-over-a-fear-of/article_656646ee-d029-535c-93f1-d9fee85cc43b.html

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