There is no doubt that when we talk about lighting, bangers and fireworks, the meaning of it changes once we have pets. Every party, event or New Year’s Eve, thousands of dogs are hidden underneath the bed or howling because they are scared. For these reason, more and more people ask for parties free of them, so pets can enjoy them too.
When our dog reacts being afraid or with anxiety to a noise, we must solve it because of us, but also because it can be dangerous for them, for example, if they run away.
So, how can we help him? Can we train the tolerance to strong noises? Good news: yes, it can be teached! Bad news is that it will not happen from one day to another, so you will need a B plan for him to go through these bad moments until they learn to deal with it.
Let’s start with the B plan: what can I do today, to help my dog, if there are lightings and bangers?
- Find a secure place. It can be the place that he has made naturally (for example, underneath a table or in a corner of an indoor room) or one that you make for him. It is important that it is a place where he feels secure.
- Distract him playing. This works better the sooner you start playing because if he gets nervous he might not pay attention. With this, you will not make him forget completely those scary noises, but you, probably, will delay the anxiety. If it is a chain of bangers or similar, you might get to delay it to the time it ends.
Well, these tricks might be useful to make your dog suffer as less as possible but, as we said before, not to avoid the issue. To stop them being afraid, it will be necessary to change his behavior.
How are we going to do it? Making him unsensible. We will make him comfortable gradually, without losing his security.
You can start downloading bangers noises to your phone, and start playing it to a volume that is comfortable for him. The idea is to be increasing the noise daily, at levels that are not traumatic for him. Meanwhile, we do activities that he likes: brushing, playing… We can also give him some treats when we increase the volume and he starts feeling scared.
This process is called counterconditioning which, in the most acute cases of phobia to strong noises, can be long and slow but it is also very important not to rush, because we might have to start from the beginning. In those special cases, you have to know that there are specialised centers to help your dog going through these phobias.
And, as we always say, there are not two identical dogs, so, when you have a doubt, ask your vet!