If you are like most pet parents, every 4th of July your dog will become scared and start barking uncontrollably at the sight or sound of fireworks. Much like a fear of the sound of gunshots, many dogs will naturally react adversely to fireworks unless they are trained properly to accept the noise as somewhat normal. If you have already trained your dog for hunting, this is probably not an issue because they will already be used to this type of sound. However, if you don’t use your dog for hunting, then chances are this is an expense that you either can’t afford or don’t want to pay for the one night it is an issue.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to train your dog and cure them of their fear of fireworks. Not only will this make your 4th of July a much quieter experience, but you can also take pleasure in the fact that your dog won’t be trembling in the corner terrified of sounds that they can’t understand. To get to the source of the problem and cure their fear for good, you first need to know what is triggering it in the first place.
Some dogs are not just afraid of the loud sounds that are made by fireworks, but also the bright flashes that are associated with them. This problem can also manifest itself at other times such as when bright flashes of lightning occur during a thunderstorm. The best way to cure your dog of this fear is to gradually work them up to associating this type of bright light with a reward.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to have an ample supply of their favorite dog treats on hand. Next, you’ll want to find some of the brightest sparklers you can buy so you can simulate the light intensity as closely as possible. Light a sparkler in your backyard at night with your dog with you outside and stand as far away as possible while the other person is petting the dog, telling them they are a good dog, and treating them with their favorite snack. Gradually work closer to your dog with the lit sparkler continuing to reward them for being good. This may take several days or even weeks, but eventually your dog will associate the bright light with a good experience and will be cured of their fear.
The more common fear that dogs have in association with fireworks is the loud “boom” they make. This is especially true if you live close to where they launch the large commercial shows because they are much more powerful than the ones people will be doing in your neighborhood. The same as before, you want to associate these sounds with a positive experience over time.
To accomplish this, you can find a video of a fireworks show on your favorite video sharing website and hook up your laptop to a stereo system. Start with the volume very low while rewarding your dog, then gradually turn up the volume in small increments while they get used to the idea. It will take some time and effort to cure your dog of their fear of the loud noise that fireworks make, so be patient; but once they are cured they will never be afraid of the noises again.