It’s that time of year again when fireworks are getting set to go off (hopefully, though things may be very different this year depending on where you live) and summertime thunderstorms are prevalent. Is your pup ready? Loud noises may scare dogs to the point they run off, hide in fear or become unable to function. Their survival instincts tell them to do so.
This behavior can be avoided by simply socializing your puppy to loud noise and sounds while he is young, keeping each interaction short and positive. Start now, well before the fireworks are going off. Find anything that makes noise and introduce your pup to it one sound at a time. Be creative but make sure to not do too much at once. Mix it up throughout the week and ALWAYS give high-value rewards when the loud sounds come out. Stay happy and calm as that will help your pup do the same. When you are calm, he is more likely to be calm. Set your puppy up for success by dropping items on carpet first to dampen sounds, then vary heights once you move to dropping items on hard floors such that the sounds start out quietly.
Have a friend help you. They can drop the item while you start as far away from the sound as possible, treating your puppy once they hear the sound. Gradually work your way closer and closer to the sound. Do NOT try to scare your puppy. If at any point your puppy stops taking the treat, he is too nervous. So create space, lessen the sound so it is not as loud then gradually build up to getting closer and closer to the loud noises. Also, NEVER force your pup to investigate or move closer. If they startle, simply act confidently and move past whatever is scaring him. Reward him for looking to you for a treat or toy. TIP: I like to play games my puppy loves while the noise is going on around him to keep him relaxed and happy.
Bang pots and pans, shoot cap guns, wave tinfoil around your pup. Try rock music played at different volumes, car doors shutting, vacuums, paper shredders, engines of: lawn mowers, snow blowers, 4-wheelers or motorcycles, CD’s with thunder recordings, chimes, bells, drums, etc. There are so many options. Again, keep sessions short and positive! It’s the quickest way to build success. Do not try to socialize your puppy to every sound at once.
On the night of the actual fireworks or thunder storm, plan to stay a fair distance away from the chaos, depending on how much you were able to socialize your pup to beforehand. Have a plan B ready to go in case your pup shows signs of fear. We do not want the night to be a negative experience AT ALL. For example, if your pup is fearful outside in the dark with loud noises and crowds of people, move inside or drive a few blocks away where the sounds may still be heard but not as loud. If a storm is happening, make sure your puppy is inside the house with you. Play his favorite game or offer high-value rewards to redirect his focus onto something positive. You know your pup best, so be observant of how he is acting and do your best to keep him calm and confident!
Amy @ Baxter & Bella