Has your dog a fear of fireworks?

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Has your dog a fear of fireworks?  If so you, like thousand’s of other dog owners you will be dreading November 5th.

You might think it a little early to be worrying about fireworks but in actual fact this is the time to start training your dog.

Here are a few helpful pointers;

1.  Dogs are naturally denning animal’s who will often look for a small dark place when feeling worried or stressed.  Consider a covered dog crate filled with lots of soft familiar smelling blankets.  Make it feel like a den for your dog, this will be working with it’s natural canine instinct.  You can help your dog accept his new ‘den’ by feeding in there, playing with his favourite toy etc.  Never just plonk your dog inside and shut the door, you need your dog to feel happy and safe, not scared and trapped.

2.  There are many desensitising CD’s available on the market.  One with a recording of fireworks which can be played with a very low volume at first, so low that you can barely hear it (your dog has much keener hearing than us humans.)  Play the sound of fireworks whilst your dog is feeling happy, for example when being fed, or when you are playing together.  Gradually, over time increase the volume, if at anytime your dog starts to show concern reduce the volume to a level where your dog relaxes.  You will find that over time the volume can be increased therefore teaching your dog that the sound of fireworks is nothing to worry about, it’s just another familiar background noise.

3.  Your dog will be looking to you for direction once the firework start, this is the time to calmly but firmly tell your dog to ‘go to bed’ which will be his new safe secure ‘den’ that you have created for him.  This is where all your preparation comes to play.  Be upbeat, happy and calm.  It is very important to stay calm and confident but please resist cuddling or praising him whilst he is upset and showing anxiety, you need to be mindful that you are not reinforcing the wrong reaction to the fireworks.  Never, ever tell your dog off as this will make him more worried.

4.  Remember to exercise your dog earlier in the day when it is still light.  Turn on the TV or put on some music, distract your dog with a game offering his favourite treat as a reward.  Always give your dog the option of going to his safe bolt hole (covered crate.)

5.  Never leave your dog alone in case he panics.  Be prepared to stay in with him.

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