First: NEVER BRING YOUR DOG TO A FIREWORKS DISPLAY
With July 4th tomorrow, I thought I'd talk about this particular fear based behavior. Tilley was my most fearful fireworks dog; she was terrified of fireworks. She never use to be; back when we lived in Canada it was Clyde (my male before Luke) who was petrified of storms and fireworks. It happened around 6 years of age when
she first showed signs of fireworks fear. Up until that point she had been fine with storms and light up the sky celebrations. So what happened? Who knows but she it happened and then she was one of the many dogs fearful of fireworks.
All dogs display their fear differently; Tilley use to dig, I was lucky that she was not a runner. Clyde was a climber and runner; running is the worst. If they get out of the safety of their home they can end up anywhere as they mindless attempt to run from the explosions. But luckily Tilley didn't run; she hid and had been found in the bathroom; perhaps she felt safe in the small room. I located her once in our closet; she had tossed the entire contents in the small area everywhere. She'd dug and dug to no avail; there she lay at the top of the heap that she'd created. Tilley was obviously trying to hide; to somehow get away from the object of her fear by digging a hole.
Elsa had displayed a fear of the boomers in the sky. Nothing ever happened to her as far as booming goes; she is just afraid of the unknown, as are many dogs. Sadly we can't explain what is going on so we must display how we feel about it. No coddling, no petting, no holding them tightly in our arms to protect them; no, we must just go about our business to show them that it is nothing to fear. If they are not too far gone in their fear then we need to try to create a positive association. This can be done by doing something that they absolutely love during the booms. We did this with Tilley when she was older to try to help her and it really did help. Elsa's fear is not as intense as Tilley's was so I think she'll get over it with her love of the retrieve. She loves nothing else more than her ball; catching and retrieving. So we'll be playing ball tomorrow night as we attempt to create a positive association to the loud noise.
For all dog owners with firework fearful dogs; even ones who do not have dogs that already show signs of fear during fireworks, pay extra attention to safety.
- Make sure that your dog is indoors safely confined; keep dog doors closed.
- Turn the tv or radio on loudly to add some constant noise.
- If your dog is fearful; best to stay home with them.
- Many dogs become injured trying to get out of a house when they are in such a state of fear; often a crate is the only safe place for these guy.
- Never respond to fear behaviors with petting and hugging.
- Put on your best "chill" face; inform the entire family to do the same.
Far too many dogs end up in shelters or worse on July 4th. Those who are left in their yard can become frenzied and attempt to escape the noise. Once they are out they will just run. In this state they have no idea where they are running; they are just running. So lock up the dogs on July 4th and please
NEVER BRING YOUR DOGS TO A FIREWORKS DISPLAYS.