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Fireworks and dog anxiety

Dogs scared of fireworks

Helping dogs with fireworks

Dogs who are scared of fireworks (almost identical for the fear of thunder and many other noises) is a topic that I am passionate about, as I hate to see any animals in fear, especially dogs. True fear, which is what many dogs are experiencing becomes very hard to handle when firstly, you do not understand why your dog is behaving in such a way, and secondly when you do not know what to do to help.

A dog that is scared may pee in the house, run away or hide under a bed, drool, shake uncontrollably, run around barking, whine, escape the property or become destructive. All these behaviors are simply signs of a dog that is stressed. And this can be stopped without force, fear or aggression when you know what to do.

What to do

BE PREPARED…

  1. Take your dog out for a walk early on so that they are relaxed and tired before the fireworks start up.
  2. Close all the curtains as the visual stimulation of the fireworks is just one of the things that can make it worse for your dog.
  3. Turn up the TV, music or radio. This simply deadens the sound so your dog will hear less of the noise
  4. Close the doors to the rest of the house so your dog is unable to charge around and become more stressed.
  5. Be ready for an evening in, maybe pour a glass of wine, have a good book or movie ready – If you have a very stressed dog then you will most likely feel you need to be with them.
  6. If you are leaving your dog alone then be aware that it can be very stressful for them and leaving them outside can be scary.
  7. Prepare your dog a nice safe place that your dog can go to rest if they chose to relax. Do not try to force them; you can’t force dogs to relax. Dogs with no clear bed will often pace around much more than ones with an obvious bed to go to. Many dogs will love a simple den shaped cardboard box with a soft blanket inside, it does not have to be flash.
  8. You will need a collar on your dog and may need a leash (it is not essential and do not use one if the leash makes your dog really excited!)

The calm freeze – using actions rather than words

The calm freeze is a very simple but very powerful technique that I use in many situations for calming dogs down. It can be used at the park if they are getting over excited, if they are barking at something and you wish them to stop or in this case when you want to show them another way to behave.

The secret is to show them with your actions rather than your words. Here is the simply summary of the steps to managing fireworks and dog anxiety with a calm freeze. Alternatively you can watch the video.

  1. Take your dog under the collar using an underhand grips, so your palm should be facing upwards to the sky.
  2. Hold them as gently as possible. You may only need one finger. It is best if you can find a seat that you are comfy on as it may take a while.
  3. Stay very calm yourself. Focus on anything other than your dog or the fireworks. Think about the movie, your magazine, friends or your next holiday.
  4. Ignore your dear lovely dog. No speaking to them, touching them or looking at them. This part is crucial.
  5. Eventually your dog will sit, but keep hold of them gently under the collar.
  6. It’s now time for you to transfer your calm energy by BEING CALM. No words are necessary at this point.
  7. Eventually your dog will lie down, keep hold of them for a while until they are settled and relaxed.
  8. When they are really relaxed you can let go of them.
  9. If they seem calm and want to go to their beds let them go.

For more in-depth dog calming techniques, check out my program The Dog Calming Code!

Monitor your own energy

  • Make sure that you are relaxed and focussing on something else other than your dog or the fireworks.
  • Check that your hold on your dog is as loose as possible.
  • If you can try to encourage others in the house to act as calm as possible with as little screaming, shouting and running as possible!

The two biggest mistakes people make is that when the first few fireworks go off people look at their dogs to see their reaction and the dog looks at them to see if there is a problem and the spiral begins…

The other mistake is that people will try to comfort their nervous or fearful dog who comes up to them wanting a cuddle. Patting them and stroking them and talking to them in your nervous “its okay, baby” sort of voice will make it worse. If they are only a little unsure just move them off you gently and ignore them (make sure they know where their nice safe bed is). If they are becoming really scared then perform the calm freeze.

Become the Pack Leader

Dogs are pack animals and the more your dog respects you and trusts your decisions as the leader of their pack then the more they will watch your behavior and follow suit. So if you remain calm they will simply look at you and be calm. If you really feel like this is part of the problem then you can learn how to do this at www.theonlinedogtrainer.com (read more about it on the blog here). This will undoubtedly have an impact in every area of your life.

Treating the cause of the problem

Other tools such as herbal drops, drugs from the vets and body wraps may also assist your dog to calm down however they do not address the real cause of the problem – instead they treat only the symptoms. For a long term, drug free solution to the fear of fireworks, thunder and much more, then take a look at the above method and become the pack leader.

Love your dog and all the best, oh and please feel free to print this off and read it when you are sitting calmly in your chair..

  • Find out more here: The Dog Calming Code (for all the training info you’ll ever need to get your dog to listen and respond (and keep calm!) when it matters most!).
  • Or, if you have a puppy, get started with my Puppy Coach training program!

If you have enjoyed it please comment below and share so everyone who needs to can find it!

Cheers,

Doggy Dan Signature .
Fireworks and dog anxiety .

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

33 Responses

    1. My 2 dogs were so relaxed through their first Guy Fawkes night thanks to your tips. They didn't bat an eyelid every other night there has been fireworks since. It works a treat! Thank you for posting the tips 🙂

  1. The best way to solve the problem of traumatised dogs (I have two who hyperventilate all night) is to ban the sale of fireworks to individuals. People could attend organised displays (and maybe the entrance monies could be donated to charity?) I was appalled to see fireworks being sold on the side of the road this year (like punnets of strawberries!). These things are explosives and the sale and storage of them should be monitored. Hopefully we won't have to wait for a terrible accident before consideration of a ban.

  2. Wished I had known this earlier on. Would have tried it on mine…………..he also stressed us up terribly and I really felt helpless. The only way then was to let him hide in either the storeroom or toilet when we it rains with thunder & lightning but its bad when this happens when we are out……… Funnily he is not troubled by fireworks??

    Thanks for the tip Dan

    1. You are welcome Bee Sim, glad that you liked the tip and Yes…I wish everyone knew about this stuff when they needed it too 🙂 Doggy Dan

    1. Hi Jamie, there is a lot to think about such as is this digging at the walls because he is scared about fireworks or is he doing it when he is left alone, or for another reason. Whatever the situation I would suggest that Logan needs some real help right now. This does not sound like a one sentence fix but a complete dog training solution, so my honest answer is to take a look at my video website http://www.theonlinedogtrainer.com where you will find a complete solution to helping your dog out. As you will see you can trial the site before you stay on, you may find the answer you are looking for during that time although there is lots of helpful stuff to look through if you are really serious about understanding your dog. All the best and let me know how it goes, Doggy Dan

  3. Hello, I have a 4 yr. old male shih tzu and a 10 mon old female shih tzu who is in heat for the first time. She is getting fixed in 2 weeks. In the mean time, my male is very friendly but when he decides that he is interested in Lucy, he guards and will push your hand away and has even growled a warning at me. At this point, I have simply given them space when this is occuring or if he has pushed or growled. I simply talk to him and let him know its ok and praise him when he doesnt do these things. What do you suggest? Thank you Lenore

    1. Hi Lenore,
      play it safe around them as a female in heat and a male hanging around can get fairly moody. To calm them down and make them more tolerant of you and your actions you need to become the pack leader. Check out http://www.theonlinedogtrainer.com and you will find the answer to your questions. I am afraid it is not an answer that I can do justice to here 🙂 You will also see how the way you interact with your dogs will often determine whether they growl or not. Becoming the pack leader first though it the key and the foundation before moving ahead. All the best, Doggy Dan

  4. Hello, I have a 4 yr. old male shih tzu and a 10 mon old female shih tzu who is in heat for the first time. My male is very friendly but when he decides that he is interested in Lucy, he guards and will push your hand away and has even growled a warning at me. At this point, I have simply given them space when this is occuring or if he has pushed or growled. I simply talk to him and let him know its ok and praise him when he doesnt do these things. What do you suggest? Thank you Lenore

    1. Hi Lenore, what I would suggest is that you play it very carefully and do not try anything rash as females in heat and male dogs hanging around them can create volatile situations. The suggestion overall as to how to help / approach them would be to make sure that you are being the calm and gentle pack leader at all times. This includes how to interact with them etc…putting this in place will calm them both down and also make them more tolerant. (Which treats the cause of the problem) Check out http://www.theonlinedogtrainer.com to take a look. Best, Dan

  5. Hi, my Cockapoo is good as gold and fine with fireworks etc. He travels with us in our caravan and loves it, but recently we had some heavy rain 4 nights on the trot (sounds like bullets on a caravan), which normally doesn’t bother him, but he was pacing, panting all night and eventually jumped on the bed and sat behind my head and curled his neck into mine, every night. It’s never been an issue before and all I can think of was about 9/10 months ago we had a terrible thunderstorm while in the caravan with such a loud crack of thunder, that it scared him for a moment and he spent the night laid next to us on the bed.
    If this is the cause, how on earth do I get him past this? (Our 7 month pup just slept through it all!)

    1. Hi Helen, I would say that the crack of thunder was the “Trigger” however the true “cause” and “solution” is more a case of STEP 1. ensuring that he understands 100% that you are the pack leader and then STEP 2. showing him how to behave…(relax and ignore the thunder etc) similar to the video on Fireworks etc. The bit that is usually missing is understanding why your dog may actually still think that he is in fact the pack leader (even though he may be very well behaved) To ensure that you are treating the most common cause of the problem and are doing everything you need to do to convince your boy that you are the pack leader take a look at my site http://www.theonlinedogtrainer.com – Enjoy 🙂 Doggy Dan

  6. My girl Mira has problems with fireworks too, so we have a save spot now for her to get away from it. Recently we discovered “Music for dogs” on Spotefy so we played that for her and I think it helped her. Since we had a Thunderstorm with hail she is ok with that. She loves ice and when we started playing with the hailstones she totaly forgot about the thunder – did not make a difference with the bangers though 🙂

    1. Great stuff, yes often distraction can help. The more that you become the pack leader then the more you will find that your dogs behave the way you are being… ie if you are calm the more they will follow suit and be calm. All the best, Dan

  7. Thanks for the tips……my lil one is so afraid of the sound and the other acts as if he wants to attack them……nice to know a few tricks thanks so much from my Joey and Jasper

    1. All good Regina 🙂
      Becoming the pack leader can have the biggest effect on them being able to relax and not be “on guard” all the time.
      Enjoy the site and love to Joey and Jasper 🙂 Dan

  8. My 4 year old mixed breed is suddenly afraid of fireworks. He jumps up, pees and then heads for the door (peeing all the way!)

    This has never been an issue. We do now have my 94 yr old father with us in hospice care and the dog attached himself to Dad. He lays in his room and has to “check out” anyone who comes in for Dad. Not sure if it’s related. We have an 18 month puppy who will hide, but that’s it. Thanks

    1. Hi Karen,
      With things having changed in your dog’s routine of late it can certainly have an impact on their behaviour. If your dog now feels responsible for your father’s protection then he may be finding the added responsibility a little stressful and fireworks just tip him over the edge a little. Start off by following my advice in the Blog but you may also like to take a look at my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com as it will provide advice about how to help take the pressure off your dog, given recent changes…its a $1USD trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan

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“I am amazed at how quickly I saw results. Cannot recommend this enough! Brilliant!”

Robert T.

"You have explained why we're having problems with our terrier and given us the tools to help him. For the first time in nearly a year we don't feel so anxious and have confidence that things will get better."

Alison M.

"All of the training in the complete pack fits together like a puzzle. Each video is valuable in learning how to read dogs and respond appropriately. So easy to use and fun to watch Dan interpret situations. All of the training has worked with my 3-month-old pup and I'm SO grateful! Thank you Dan and team!"

Sara M.

"I really like learning how to be calm & effective with training. I also appreciate the encouragement I receive to be the pack leader that my dog wants and needs."

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