By Selina Gibsone, former Dog Training Manager, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
Some hearing dogs are worried by fireworks and become too nervous to work during this time. In such cases, we will work hard to reduce the dog’s fear of the sounds. Get your dog used to firework noises before the firework season starts by using a desensitisation CD. Play firework noises from the CD at a low volume with your dog showing no fearful reaction. Provide rewards so that your dog learns to associate the sound of the fireworks with getting nice things. When they happen for real, they should be less frightened. Order the ‘Sounds scary CD’ from www.soundtherapy4pets.com.
You can also minimise their fear by putting on a TV and closing the curtains to block out some of the noise and flashes. Give your dog some chews or treats to help distract them, too, and provide a ‘safe place’ for them to settle in – a covered crate, or a table with a blanket over it. Let them become accustomed to the comforting corner before firework night by feeding them in there. When the fireworks start, don’t force them to go there – leave them to settle wherever they feel most secure.
Try to act normally while the fireworks are sounding, and don’t fuss over your dog if they get worried. Carry on as usual and stay relaxed and your dog will think there is nothing to worry about. Give them time to settle. When they calm down, you can then interact with them and reward them, so they associates nice things with the sound of the fireworks.
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