By Kathy Santo | Updated: May 1 2019
Fireworks can be very traumatic to some dogs, but the good news is that this particular fear can respond well to sound desensitization techniques. By playing a high-quality CD of fireworks very quietly at first and gradually increasing the volume over a period of time, your dog can potentially become desensitized to the sound.
However, increasing the volume too quickly (before the dog is behaving in a calm and relaxed manner while the CD was playing at a lower volume), or exposing the dog to the sound of real fireworks before the desensitization program is complete will almost guarantee a relapse. Luckily for you, this is an easier “sound fear” to desensitize than a thunderstorm phobia. Unlike fireworks, thunderstorms occur with a combination of environmental changes (such as static electricity) that are impossible to recreate.
In the meantime, if there’s a chance your dog will be exposed to fireworks before you complete the desensitization program (or if you notice that it’s not helping), your best choice is to stay indoors with him until the fireworks are over. If you must leave the house, keep him safely confined with some white noise in the background and his favorite comfort toys. Be sure that his I.D. tags are on and up to date – a microchip and an ID collar embroidered with the word REWARD and your cell number is even better. Some dogs become so fearful that they’ve managed to escape from their homes. And if you miss the fireworks this year – take heart. You can always watch them on t.v…with the Mute button on!
Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.
In Ramsey, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.