Helping Dogs overcome fear of fireworks – a training perspective

We hope you enjoy these helpful tips from our guest blogger – .Rachael’s Canine Ambitions knows your dog deserves the best. She provides friendly, reliable and fully insured dog walking and training in the Swindon area as well as being an experienced dog trainer.

Dogs being scared of fireworks is a really common problem, and it’s made even worse by the fact that they don’t just happen one or two nights a year – it seems to go on for ages. It’s all really distressing not just for your dog but also for you, seeing your pet getting into such a state.

You can help your dog become desensitised to the noise though – that means the sound will no longer have an effect on them and they won’t be fearful. This is by no means a quick fix, it will take time and patience because we are asking them to think differently and change a deep-rooted behaviour, but do give it a good try before you opt for more extreme measures such as sedatives from your vet.

You can desensitise your dog to the sound by playing a recording of fireworks like these at a really low level. (playing these through proper speakers makes the sound slightly more realistic as it would be on bonfire night, rather than if you just play it through your computer speakers).

Start at a very low volume, so you can barely even hear the fireworks (remember dogs can hear better than us). They should be so quiet that the dog doesn’t react to them, so this is when you reward with a food treat or some attention.

Practice this for a few minutes, a few times a day. Turn the sound up very gradually over the coming weeks, when you stop getting a reaction at the current volume. That’s the most important thing though – only turn the volume up when your dog is completely calm with the level it’s currently at. – this is how they become desensitised to the sound. If they react to the sound, it’s too loud so turn it back down to where they were comfortable.

There is no such thing as starting this too early – you could practice all year round, a few times a week if you wanted to, rather than waiting until the week before bonfire night, which may be too late to make much of a difference.

You can use this desentisation method with all sounds your dog is afraid of – the vacuum cleaner, planes, thunder, maybe even guns if you live in the countryside and there’s a lot of shooting. The process will be the same.

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