Tonight is not going to be fun night for almost 50% of dogs in the UK. Why? Studies have shown that this is the percentage of dogs that experience an aversion to noises. Panting, dribbling, escape attempts, hiding and destructiveness are a few behaviour responses to noise sensitivity manifested in dogs. We can find plenty of reported incidents of dogs trying to escape and doing other dangerous things such as chewing concrete walls, scratching doors and windows and often harming themselves whilst trying to escape a stressful noise. The fear of fireworks is often accompanied with fears to other noises too like thunderstorms, gunshots, vacuum cleaners and other noises.
Why are fireworks the scariest? Sounds such as gunshots produce a high frequency sound and thunderstorms or similar sounds produce that low frequency noises. Fireworks have both low and high frequency sounds and therefore are much more likely that a dog will react to them.
A worrying statistic is that less than 30% of noise sensitive dog owners seek help from a vet or dog trainer for this fear. It is a common belief that this fear will get better and less severe as the dog gets older. This sadly is not the case at all. According to studies, in only 4% of dogs does the fear start to diminish and in most cast it actually gradually gets worse with the exposure and age!
Some short term solutions to help your dog feel more comfortable during this stressful time is creating a safe space for your dog to go to e.g. a covered crate or anything that resembles a den, giving something really nice and tasty to chew on so that they can focus on something else and turning up the radio or tv to hide the noise from the fireworks. In some circumstances we can look for help from a vet too and they can help with a short acting medication with rapid onset that alleviates fear and anxiety in short term. Long term solutions involves desensitising dogs to fear provoking noises but more importantly, working on coping mechanisms! Creating the ability for your dog to cope with 'worries' will boost your dog's confidence in general and will likely translate to other areas of life as well!
Several years ago it was common to only hear fireworks during the bonfire weekend or over the new year, but now it is much more common and you will probably hear them every weekend until the beginning of next year.
Our mission over the next 2 months is to share some valuable information with you about how to help eradicate this fear and raise awareness of the problem. We will talk about everything from exercise, diet, supplementation and other tools to behavioural modification training and boosting your dog's confidence. We will also show you how to prevent this common problem in young dogs and puppies so we can help make these statistic go down!