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Dog Training Tips

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Never unnecessarily expose your pet to firecracker noise or fireworks displays, as they can cause stress and fear in your dog, and even long-term phobias. It is important that the dog associate any new noises with good things and a calm attitude so you don’t contribute to his fears. Keep your dog inside, play games and bring out the treats and toys. Run and play with him so he will be focused on the game, instead of anxious behavior that can evolve into shaking, drooling, etc. Give him lots of praise and treats for staying in the game and for trying to have fun, even if he looks uneasy. Try masking loud firecracker noises with “white noise” (from an air conditioner), as well as with music or other familiar sounds (radio or television).

Although it is a natural reaction to comfort your dog when he is frightened or anxious due to loud noises, do not say “it’s okay”, stroke, pet, hug or otherwise comfort your dog. By doing so you are praising him for his nervous behavior, which means it is more likely he will be frightened the next time a loud noise happens. And remember, dogs pick up on your emotions, even if you try to hide them. If you are scared to act nervous, your dog will likely pick up on your subtle signals and perceive the situation as a frightening one.

The important thing is to teach your dog that loud noises may be surprising, but they don’t have to be frightening. There are various methods of desensitization to loud noises, but sometimes, despite all your efforts, some dogs will refuse to calm down. If you have a dog that can’t let go of his fear of a particular loud noise, help him get as comfortable as possible when he is upset. Put him in his crate or let him “hide out” in his favorite place indoors. When he is ready to come out, take him for a walk or play a game with him. Consult with your veterinarian or dog trainer if you feel your dog is suffering from a noise-phobia. (Note: even deaf dogs can get anxious if there are firecrackers or fireworks going off. They can sense something is different and can display the same fearful reactions as dogs with good hearing.)