The fourth of July is here, hooray! I do many workshops and help lots of dogs that have thunderstorm, firework and other sound phobias, so I thought I would write something for all you new puppy and dog owners out there on some ways to help prevent your puppy from developing these fears. Here are a few tips and ideas;
1. DON'T take your puppy or dog out to watch the fireworks with you!! If you have a new puppy, this is often a very exciting time and many families are tempted to bring Fido out to enjoy all the fun on the night of the 4th of July. Although this may seem like a great idea, families are often too distracted by children, the fireworks, and so much going on to actually be training their puppy, and often miss signs that the pup may feel overwhelmed or begin to get anxious after a few minutes of the noises. The puppy is flooded with loud, unpredictable noises and may become very stressed, and this can often set the stage for more sound phobia later in life.
2. DO give your puppy something wonderful to do and a place to go during the fireworks when or if you have to leave him. A Kong stuffed to the brim with yummy treats and frozen so it takes longer is a great treat to help keep your puppy happy during the noise and also teach him that fireworks = a fabulous treat!
3. DO give your puppy a safe place to go and let him go there if he wishes. A crate with the door open in a room where the noise is drowned out the most (a basement or bathroom), some soft classical music (www.throughadogsear.com) playing and their Kong will again help calm and also show puppies it really isnt that scary, it's a good thing! If your puppy isnt worried, do obedience training, play some scent games or just cuddle! All of those things will again help puppy learn that fireworks = fun.
4. DON'T forget the power of noisy toys! The kong wobbler, the nina ottosson pyramid and the premier magic mushroom make a TON of noise on tile and hardwood flooring. This can be a great way to drown out the fireworks, while using food to make your puppy feel wonderful about the whole ordeal!
5. DON'T leave your puppy alone with nothing to do, locked in a crate. Doing this can cause them to feel like the world is ending outside and they are all alone. It can panic them. Instead, plan on staying home with your puppy or designating someone in the household to stay and do the above steps with pup. If you must leave your puppy, make sure you give him plenty to do and in an area where the sounds will not be as severe with the music playing (www.throughadogsear.com) and if you can, check on him frequently to make sure he is coping well or to refill treat toys!
Finally - DON'T wait until it is too late to get help! Please contact a professional trainer to help you or answer questions if you have concerns either before or after the 4th. By helping your puppy have a fabulous time during fireworks, you are helping prevent him from fearing them in the future. It may mean you miss this years show, but it will be worth it! Plus, who wouldn't miss the fireworks for some puppy breath and a cuddle??Happy 4th of July!