5 Tips To Help Your Dog
Through The 4th of July
With the 4th of July (or New Year's or whatever your national day of celebration), comes a lot of fireworks and a lot of noise. For your dog, it means being freaked out and having anxiety around all the unknown noise.
If you're concerned about your dog struggling with the 4th of July, then this article and related video are for you.
In this dog training article, I'm going to show you how to help your dog become more comfortable with sudden, repetitive noises.
Before we get into the thick of this article, I want you to know that it's okay for your dog to get scared. Everyone gets scared what's important is how we react and recover.
This doesn't mean that your dog should be bolting but if they get spooked and jump, that's okay. What I'll be discussing will be how to help desensitize your dog to the noise as well as help them to quickly regain their composure.
Tip #1: Start playing music in the background
We want to start to shift the idea in your dog's head from noise is something to be scared of to; sudden noise means that we're about to have a lot of fun and play!
When there's a sudden noise, we can suddenly create a game of fetch or start performing commands with our dog. Do anything that gets your dog to focus on what just happened with the noise and refocuses them back to you.
Tip #2: Play thunder soundtracks while with your dog
To help your dog get used to loud banging noises, while at home, or driving in the car with them, play thunder soundtracks.
By playing thunder music, you can help your dog become used to loud cracking noises which are repetitive. When the 4th of July does roll around, your dog will have heard noises that are similar so the banging noise coming from outside isn't completely foreign for your dog.
It's important to make sure your dog is having a positive experience around these noises. You don't want to be having to correct your dog and have these sounds going on in the background. I would recommend playing the soundtrack while feeding your dog, playing with them, or even giving them easy commands to practice so as to associate these types of noises as a positive thing, something that they are going to get rewarded for when they hear them.
Tip number three, four, and five. What we're going to start to do is transition more to what you can do during the four central nice specifically, to help your dog with their anxiety around this.
Tip #3: Keep your dog home for the 4th of July
I get it, it's nice out, there's usually barbecues and a lot of outdoor time that would be great to spend with your puppy. At a minimum, I would highly recommend you put your dog inside when the fireworks startup.
If you're at a relatives or friend's house ask ahead of time if you can bring a kennel with you to put your puppy inside when things begin to get loud.
By placing your dog inside, you're creating a buffer zone to dampen the noise and protecting them from potentially hurting themselves.
The reason you don't want to have your dog outside or into the public to watch a fireworks event is that if your dog begins to get really anxious around the noise, you have very little that you can do to work with them. At a minimum, you're going to have to work with your dog to hopefully mitigate any longterm anxiety that could result from the experience.
If we're unable to be a hundred percent focused on our dog and work through something they're struggling with, it's better to not get into that situation in the first place.
What will happen is that your dog will get really anxious, you'll get distracted from socializing or enjoying the views. When you finally realize your dog is scared it may be too late at that moment to refocus them which can create frustration with your dog because you can no longer enjoy yourself.
From there, things continue to spiral for you and your dog.
To prevent this, keep your puppy inside, or keep them home. Take the approach of lowering the level of anxiety for your dog, because the last thing you want is for your dog to totally freak out, and have a panic attack which could lead to long-term fear of noise that you may or may not be able to work through.
Tip #4: Play an action movie for your dog
Since your dog is going to be at home, or at a minimum they'll be inside, if available, play an action-style movie, something with big explosions. You're looking for the type of movie that Michael Bay would direct, explosions for 90 minutes.
By playing a movie for your dog to listen to and maybe even watch your dog will have a harder time differentiating between the explosions on-screen and the fireworks outside. Ideally, your dog will simply assume that the fireworks going on outside are actually part of the movie, thus lowering the anxiety level for your dog during the evening.
This technique of disguising or layering a scary noise with a familiar noise is one that I use often. For Newport (my current assistance puppy in training). I'll have him inside in his kennel with an action movie that he's able to listen to.
Tip #5, Give your puppy a really, really good chew toy or bone
To continue giving your dog thins to occupy themselves with while your neighborhood is having a constant stream of fireworks going off, give them a brand new bone or toy as a special treat for the evening.
Give them something that they will really be able to get consumed by for the evening. Being able to chew on a bone while at the same time hearing a movie going on in the background will go a long way to helping your dog forget or even not realizing there are fireworks occurring outside.
Even if your dog is able to tell there are explosions, it will continue to lower that anxiety for your dog. They'll be able to have something to do rather than lay in their kennel, having to listen to repeated explosions and spinning out over it.
Over the next several days leading up to the 4th of July, start working on the above tips and tricks to help with your dog's noise anxiety. By doing so, your dog will have time to get used to sudden noises. Starting from a distance you can bang some pots, cabinets, and doors. As your dog becomes used to the noises and responds well, slowly make the noises closer and closer to your dog.
If your puppy becomes startled by any of the noises, make sure not to coddle your dog as that only reinforces the behavior of cowering being afraid. Instead, if your dog becomes startled, redirect them to something fun and exciting such as a command or on you.
You and your dog will do great, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming holiday while your dog enjoys a relaxing evening with a movie and a new toy!