Fireworks will soon be upon us again and every year many guardians struggle with knowing how to comfort and soothe their dogs during this time.
Preparation and practice is key and the best way to set both you and your dog up for success.
Closing the curtains, playing music, turning on white goods, providing mental enrichment games as well as chews and or physical play if your dog is able to play is super important. Doing this in practice when there are no fireworks also helps the dog to not predict fireworks or a thunderstorm, because we are habituating the routine and the behaviour so as not predicting that there is going to be a frightening event.
You can absolutely comfort your dog if they will allow you, especially if they initiate needing comfort.
Provide safe cosy spaces and lots of escape routes, we may deem a space as cosy and safe but our dog may feel safer elsewhere so it's important to respect this and give them choice of the spaces within the home.
White noise machines can also be really helpful and on average are about £20 but give the added comfort of knowing the noises are being drowned out. Many offer different frequencies such as white, brown, blue or pink noise as well as nature sounds.
The other thing we need to make sure is ready is either frozen licki mats or Kongs or fresh Kongs and Licki mats, as well as our enrichment games and brain games such as snuffle mats and destruction boxes so that this helps the dogs to become less anxious.
Here are some fantastic articles for further reading: Karalina Westlund https://illis.se/.../eliminating-firework-and-thunder.../
Fear Free Pets has a brilliant article and examples of consent training. https://fearfreepets.com/stationing-behaviors-how-to.../
The Do No Harm Dog Training and Behaviour Handbook by Linda Michaels MA from Amazon https://amzn.to/3PhC74z
The handbook not only teaches about fear and desensitisation but also teaches about enrichment and explains in depth why working on these behaviours and providing enrichment is so important.
Help! My dog is scared of Fireworks by Toni Shelbourne https://amzn.to/3Alwo8N
The Relaxation Protocol by Dr. Karen Overall will be very helpful https://journeydogtraining.com/karen-overalls-relaxation.../
I also have these videos on my YouTube of fireworks desensitisation as well as thunderstorms.
Within the videos I am utilising a wireless Sub Woofer speaker which you can get on ebay or Amazon for about £20. This makes the sounds so much more realistic.
Working on desensitisation sessions throughout the year can be really helpful in ensuring your dog is comfortable with fireworks and thunderstorms or at least as comfortable as they can be.
Fireworks desensitisation https://youtu.be/DygQqzykxFk?si=_zq8AzYns1Ytn_o3
Thunder and lightning desensitisation https://youtu.be/_nqpdl7a7CY?si=KFh2_dCYh05giFRw
Enrichment preparation https://youtu.be/KLTdr6c6vqI
And of course this is not just limited to dogs! https://youtu.be/MTw9M94J2_g
We also have our heavily discounted Fireworks course available within our Mutts and Mischief Academy. https://muttsandmischiefacademy.com/p/fireworks-and-dogs
Image description: a Wolfdog puppy and teenage Wolfdog one lad half in a red fabric crate and the puppy laid beside him. Centered in the middle of the infographic.
Title reads Fireworks and Thunderstorms
Speech bubbles read: provide safe spaces and escape routes
Play with them if they will
Be present with them
Make sure plenty of water is available
Practice throughout the year
Provide lots of enrichment
Close the curtains
Turn on the TV, radio etc
Invest in a white noise machine
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