New Year is a celebration that gives people a lot of joy, and the sights in the city are pleasing to the eye. On New Year‘s night, fireworks are everywhere, but not everyone likes them. Our little or big friends – dogs usually do not like fireworks very much, and some are even panicked.
Every year after the New Year‘s Eve, there are many requests to help find escaped dogs – the owners take them together to admire the fireworks, and sometimes the panicked four-legged ones even run away from home.
Signs Your Australian Shepherd Is Scared of Fireworks
The main signs of fear of fireworks or any big noise – the dog trembles, sniffs, walks quickly, is nervous and excited, may cry, try to hide. Fear, of course, can be on several levels:
- low – anxiety, trembling, trying to hide, fear of going outside
- high – when the dog behaves chaotically – destroys household items and furniture, tries to break a wall or door.
Reasons Dogs Are Scared of Fireworks
The dog‘s reaction to various stimuli depends on genetics (heredity), but this and that is also determined by socialization. If a puppy is exposed to as many sounds as possible as it grows, it is likely that it will be less afraid of them in the future, even if it has inherited a more sensitive nervous system.
Let us remember that dogs have been used for hunting since ancient times and the sharp sound of a shot is an alarm signal to them. And the sound of fireworks is similar, so they are likely to warn the owner or hide from danger by barking or otherwise abnormally behaving. Dogs are forced to do so by a defensive mechanism.
Also, don‘t forget that dogs hearing is much sharper than of humans. They hear not only quieter sounds, but also higher tones – dogs can also hear 8000 Hz sound, when a human can hear 2000 Hz at best.
In some cases, a combination of various actions helps reduce the fear of fireworks, depending on how sensitive the dog is to sounds. That fear will not always be completely eliminated – and in some cases, due to a small improvement before the New Year, 4th of July or any other big festival, you will have to repeat special exercises. These exercises should strengthen your Aussies nervous system.
How Do I Calm My Australian Shepherd during Fireworks?
Take your Australian Shepherd for a walk earlier on New Year‘s Eve, by no means let him face the fireworks face to face. Make sure the dog is at home with the family members while someone else outside shooting fireworks.
- Protect your home
A number of dogs try to escape from their homes when they hear a sudden and noisy sound. This can also happen when the dog hears fireworks. So make sure your home is ready – no windows or doors left open.
- Create a safe hideout for your Aussie
As the fireworks approach, leave the dog in his favorite room. A large cardboard box is perfect for this. On New Year‘s Eve, he will be able to hide in it if he feels insecure.
- Do not leave the animal alone
A very important point – by no means leave the dog alone when firing fireworks. Be with him, spread warmth and love. He can panic while being alone and even injure itself.
- Mute the sounds
You probably won‘t be able to completely hide the sounds of fireworks, but you can definitely mute them. For example, close all the curtains, close the room doors, turn on the TV or music to mask the sounds of fireworks.
- React positively
Show your Australian Shepherd that there is nothing to be afraid of, try to cheer him up and praise him if he responds positively to your amusements.
- Play with him
Directing a dog‘s attention toward completely other things works great. Have a variety of toys ready, it would be best if he hasn‘t tried them yet. Or have his favorite toy. It can also be a great time to train your dog. If your Aussie doesn‘t want to play or be trained, you can just caress and love him.
- Never punish the dog
Punishing a dog when he is scared of the good will certainly not lead, and in the long run will ruin your relationship with the pet.
What Can I Give My Australian Shepherd For Fireworks Anxiety?
If your Australian Shepherd‘s panic attacks are severe, nothing is working or working very weakly, and you think you may need more help – contact your veterinarian. Depending on the case, this will offer special supplements (this can also be combined with behavioral therapies) or, in some cases, medicines.
The latter are needed when the dog‘s reaction to the noise is inadequate. There is nothing strange is your Aussie is hiding from a fireworks in a corner, but if he wants to run away, shakes, tries to break the door or want to jump out the window – it is already worth worrying about and helping him. From sedatives the dog will most likely be rotten, but he will get better.
Although most dogs will hardly ever enjoy fireworks even after applying all possible means, it is possible to make them feel as good as possible during them. Of course, if a dog has a serious innate fear of sounds, these things will work in a way that will make him feel better in the particular situation where they are applied (such as at home). Elsewhere, in another situation, the dog is likely to panic again after hearing a horrible sound.
Dog Training Not To Be Afraid Of Sounds
One of the very useful, but time-consuming measures is the replacement of fear reactions by desensitization. Sensitization is the process of making noise subtly (sound recording) so as not to provoke a fear response. Very slowly that stimulus is intensified, but it is always kept below the fear-causing threshold. As always when teaching something, for a good behavior dog should be encouraged.
Sound training is a long process, which in successful cases can last only a few weeks, and in more severe cases – even several months. It is likely that this ritual will have to be repeated every year. The activity itself is not very complicated. Let the dog at home hear the sounds of fireworks louder and louder each time. For the first time, the should is played very quietly, just enough for the dog to wake up, but there would be no panic. If you see your Australian Shepherd is relaxed, you can make a little more noise. Make sounds before eating, playing games, walks – this will cause the dog to associate them with something good.
The most important thing is to be with him and not leave him alone, nor to punish him in any way if he is afraid of fireworks.