For many, New Year and Independence Day are some of the best days of the year: garden barbecues, parades, and amazing fireworks to usher in the start of a fabulous New Year or to celebrate our nation’s independence.
But for many pet parents, these are the most feared days of the year.
For those of us with fearful dogs, the evening is often spent comforting a panicked pooch from the first crackle to the grand finale. We use thunder shirts, essential oils, calming music, and more to calm our stressed dogs down. Often we only find relief when the explosions finally subside.
Instead of just dreading the big day, prepare now.
The fear of loud noises and novelties, especially fireworks and thunderstorms, is common in many dogs. This can be extremely problematic and stressful for both the dog and the owner. As a result, I created a playlist of different sound effects to solve this problem. You can use it to positively condition a not yet fearful dog or desensitize and counter-condition an already fearful dog.
When it comes to training a dog for sounds, we cannot use real storms or fireworks because these events happen too quickly and are often unexpected. This is why prerecorded sounds are so important that we can directly control the timing, volume, and duration. It is important that the training protocol is implemented gradually and over long periods of time.
Step 1: Start the soundtrack on a low level that your dog won’t even hear. It must not cause an anxious reaction. Dogs have much better hearing than we do, so play it safe and turn down the volume.
Step 2: This is a slow and strategic process. Increase the volume to only one level per training session. The biggest mistake one can make is increasing the stimuli too quickly, which leads to a fear response.
Step 3: While the soundtrack is playing, create a positive and happy association for your dog. You can: treat your dog regularly with a quality snack (hot dog, cheese, turkey, etc.), play your dog’s favorite game (pull, fetch, etc.), or practice various obedience commands. This will keep your dog’s mind focused on productive and happy activities.
Step 4: Restart this scenario in different rooms of the house as soon as your dog no longer reacts to the noises to an appreciable extent. Varying the context helps the dog generalize the fact that these noises are not “bad”.
There are other variables that can trigger a fear response, such as: B. atmospheric changes during thunderstorms, terrifying lightning bolts from lightning, and vibrations from fireworks. These are difficult to create artificially so we’ll focus on what we can control (i.e. the sounds).
If (when) your dog is anxious to respond to any of the sounds at a certain volume, take a step back by reducing the volume to a previous level and continuing at that level. Then gradually increase again when the dog is ready.
This protocol can help rehabilitate anxious dogs and prevent problems in puppies and non-reactive dogs. Make sure you start the positive conditioning, desensitization, and counter-conditioning process now. Don’t try to train your dog 2 days before hurricane season or on July 3rdapprox. Conduct short and frequent training sessions every day for several weeks.