There is no simple and easy answer to this, and if speaking honestly the work needs to be put in when you first get your dog, whether a puppy or you re-home when they are a little older.
The ideal situation is from a puppy. During the first 3-12 weeks of age is when your dog develops a sense of fear. How they recover from this is key to their emotional wellbeing as they develop and grow.
A lot of early behaviours are taught by mum and siblings, for example biting too hard – a sibling or mum will soon tell them off so they know they went too far. Now, we do not get a puppy until the earliest 8 weeks old, a fantastic way to ensure they gain in confidence around sights, sounds and smells, is to start this following process straight away.
You can take your puppy everywhere with you, naturally carrying them (you can even buy dog pushchairs). They will get used to traffic, children playing, wind, rain, sounds and smells they will not have experienced previously. For loud noises specifically you can either buy a disc or there are lots of apps you can download onto your phone which play the noises you don’t necessarily come into contact with on a daily basis;
- Children crying
- Car/lorry horns
If you start with playing this quietly, while you are around, carrying on with normal activities, this way they know the noise is ok and nothing to be alarmed of. Gradually, over a period of weeks, increase the volume of the noises, until playing extremely loud – you will notice your dog soon carries on as normal, and potentially even sleeps through the noises!
You can increase the intensity of this once you are happy them are calm with the noises, by starting quietly again, and leave the house. Just pop to the shops, take the kids on the school run etc, this is enough for them to re-enforce it is ok. Again, over a period of weeks, continue to increase the volume while you leave the house.
By the time firework night (or month) comes around, your dog will literally not bat an eyelid!
The above is the ideal situation for desensitising your dog to fireworks, however, this is not always possible;
- You have only just thought about it and firework night is imminent
- You didn’t realise to start as soon as you got your dog
- Your dog has had a previous bad experience with fireworks
- Your dog is a rescue and extremely nervous
There are several ways to deal with the above;
- Plug-ins – these slowly release phenemones into the room, which calm the dog down
- Thunderjacket – these in effect swaddle the dog and give the security that they are comforted
- Vets – speak to your vet, they may prescribe some drugs that will keep your pet calm throughout what is a traumatic experience for them
In all cases, whether your dog is ok with fireworks or not:
- Never let your dog outside, or take them for a walk when fireworks are going off
- Stay with your dog, stay home and provide reassurance to them that it is ok and they are safe.