U.S. folks and Canadians, get ready for the fireworks!
This is partially a re-post from 2013, but I’ve added some new resources.
People in the U.S. and Canada are getting ready for national holidays that often include all sorts of loud pops and booms from fireworks and firecrackers, even cannons and guns.
These kinds of noises scare some dogs very badly, and during these holidays the noises are unpredictable and can go on for a long time period.
A lot of folks worry about comforting their dogs when they are afraid, and are concerned that they will reinforce their dogs’ fears.
That is incorrect.
- Behaviors can be reinforced.
- Emotions can’t.
- Fear is an emotion.
- If you comfort your fearful dog, it doesn’t somehow “reinforce” the fear and make them more scared next time.
But don’t take my word for it.
Take Dr. Patricia McConnell’s: You Can’t Reinforce Fear; Dogs and Thunderstorms
Or Suzanne Clothier’s: Calming the Fearful Dog
Everybody’s dog is different. Maybe your dog profits from just hanging out with you. Or maybe you make her more nervous and she’d rather get in a crate. If she isn’t too scared to eat, maybe she would like a food toy. You can judge what helps the most.
At my house, whenever possible during fireworks or thunder, we all troop to the bedroom. Summer gets on the bed with me and cuddles. I give everybody spray cheese every time it booms. Clara and Zani consequently LOVE thunderstorms. And Summer feels better being near me and profits from the routine.
If you want to get really nitpicky, it is possible to reinforce fearful behaviors. But during a noisy holiday is not the time to worry about that!
Other Resources for Getting Through the Fireworks
Here are some very practical tips for getting your dog through events with loud noises. Some are short-term helps, and some are long-term solutions. I hope you find something that will help in your own situation.
- Fearful Fourth of July by Tena Parker
- Storm and Sound Phobias by Debbie Jacobs of Fearfuldogs.com
- Canine Thunder Phobia: The Bunker Protocol by John Visconti
- What Happened to Summer’s Thunderstorm Phobia? eileenanddogs
- Sound Masking for Reactive Dogs eileenanddogs
Keep your gates locked and your dogs’ identification items on.
Thanks for reading! You can go cuddle your dog, if she likes it!