Start now to prepare your dog for thunderstorms and fireworks.
Many dogs are afraid of fireworks and thunderstorms, so the summer months can be a tough go for them. Lucky for us, their fear doesn’t have to be forever! You can help your dog stay happy and relaxed through all the noise of summer with some advance preparation.
Advance Preparation for the Firreworks
- Set up a safe space. Create a “happy place” where your dog can retreat and feel secure. Choose a spot in your house where your dog usually likes to relax that will also buffer the sights and sounds of thunderstorms or fireworks, such as a walk-in closet or a room with blackout curtains. Fill it with comfortable beds and some favorite toys, and make it extra awesome with playtime or treats.
- Start behavioral training. Desensitizing your dog to loud sounds is key to helping them overcome their fear. This can be done by playing thunderstorm or firework noise very quietly and only for a minute or two at a time, all while giving them plenty of love and treats to help them create positive associations with the sound. Over time, you can gradually increase the volume and length of time you play the sound, so your dog can keep growing more comfortable with it.
- Pick out calming supplements and aids. Several natural supplements designed to reduce anxiety are available for dogs. Other aids, like CBD from Joy Organics, can also help create a sense of calm.
- Visit your veterinarian. If your dog has had severe reactions to noise in the past, then it’s best to share your concerns with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can offer personalized training advice and may recommend anti-anxiety medications as well.
Day-of the Fireworks or Loud Noises
- Give supplements or medications early. If you are planning to give your dog supplements or anti-anxiety medications, starting these before the crashes and bangs begin may help relax your dog and reduce their reactivity.
- Encourage your dog to go to their safe space. With repetition, your dog will learn to seek out their happy place on their own.
- Drown out the sound. Leave music playing in the safe space to help block the booms. Closing all the windows and doors in the house will help as well.
- Provide plenty of distraction. Pull out your dog’s favorite toys and treats or give your dog something fun to focus on.
- Don’t make a fuss. When your dog is distressed, it’s hard to ignore the urge to comfort them, but excessive comforting may reward your dog’s behavior or (even worse!) validate their fears. Besides a few calm pats, carry on as if nothing special is happening. Your dog will be reassured by your worry-free demeanor.