Noise and Firework Phobia in Washington DC Dogs
Fireworks are a major cause of noise phobia for dogs and as you know the 4th of July is quickly approaching and with it, Washington DC’s famous and incredibly loud firework show.
It is unknown why some pets become afraid of noises such as thunder and fireworks; it is a common problem in dogs, and a recent study has found that dogs in the working and sporting group have an above average risk of developing these noise phobias. Often no triggering event of what initially caused the phobia can be determined. And while there is no guarantee that a noise phobia can be totally resolved, in many instances the fear can be managed effectively:
Do NOT reward fearful behavior
• This means do not pet or try to comfort your dog when he/she is scared. When a dog gets petted/comforted, they see it as a reward. They think about what they are doing to deserve the reward, and then reproduce that behavior to get another reward. If they are scared and get rewarded, then they are going to be scared again because they think they are doing the right thing.
Do NOT punish fearful behavior
• If they are already scared don’t make them more scared by punishing them! Sheesh!!
• Ignore their fear and project a calm and confident attitude: Dog's are VERY aware of the mental state of their humans. If you are worried or nervous, this will add to your dog’s fear. Your dog will look to you for direction, so keep an "upbeat" and "in charge" attitude.
Increase vigorous exercise
• Dog's should receive vigorous exercise daily, and more so on the days leading up to and the day of when the fear-producing noise is likely to occur. The exercise will help to tire them out, both mentally and physically, and may make them less responsive to the noise. In addition, exercise increases natural serotonin levels, which can act as a sedative and counteracts cortisol, which is an anxiety promoting hormone.
Provide a safe zone for resting/ sleeping
• If your dog is crate trained, this will be his/her safe zone. Wherever the safe zone is located, close the windows and drapes to keep out the noises and flashes of light.
Provide some background noise
• TV, radio, fans, and/or air conditioner, to help drown out the booming fireworks.
Anti-Anxiety Remedies and Distractions
• Distract them with a feeding toy. These toys slowly dispense pieces of food as I play with it.
• Give me the toy in my safe zone and before the booming starts.
• If your dog has really severe anxiety, talk to your vet about medical options. These medicines are safe and effective when used correctly.