Puppy Afraid of Fireworks? Here’s Help!
If you have a puppy afraid of fireworks, it does not have to continue. Did your puppy have a fearful first experience with fireworks? Are you worried that you will forever have a dog that has anxiety when it hears loud noises? Maybe you are considering sedatives or boarding your dog the next time there is a celebration where fireworks will be set off? Since you have a puppy afraid of fireworks are you worried that your puppy will also be afraid of thunderstorms or other loud noises? These are common concerns, but your puppy can get over their fear with your help.
You will want to show your puppy that loud noises are really no big deal by reintroducing them during times that they are in a healthy state of mind. Take your puppy outside for some play and while they are interacting with an adult stable dog or playing fetch with a family member try banging a pot and pan together. Only do this a couple times and randomly at a distance. You can also feed your puppy outside and do the same thing, make sure that the noise starts at a distance as the key here is to not startle your pup. I advise doing this outside because there are more distractions (sights and smells) and less chance for your puppy to focus on the noise. You can engage your pup by practicing obedience too. Basically we want the loud noise to be nothing more than background noise while the main focus is on something more positive. Do not rush a puppy afraid of fireworks as it will only cause them more anxiety.
It may take a few weeks to get here, but the next step is to take your puppy to an outdoor gun range. Since your puppy is afraid of fireworks you need to recreate those sounds. Start far away or in the parking lot with your puppy in their crate. Feed them in the crate while you are there. On your next trip put the crate a little closer and again feed them while there. Over time you will be able to move the crate closer to the range and your puppy will become desensitized to the loud noises. This training technique is used with hunting dogs and is very successful when applied to a puppy afraid of fireworks.
Remember that your puppy will look to you for cues on how to react. If you are nervous or anxious then your puppy will also be. Think of a mother dog; she will protect her pups, but she will not coddle them. When a puppy is afraid of fireworks, do not try to “comfort” them as this will unintentionally nurture their fear and anxiety and can be much harder to rehabilitate down the road. There is also no need to wait till July before working with a puppy afraid of fireworks. You can begin helping your puppy work thru their fear today!
For help working through your puppy’s fears, don’t hesitate to contact a professional!