Dogs Fear of Fireworks
It is a very normal response when a dog or a person is startled by a sudden loud noise. This is an immediate fear response and can cause symptoms such as increased alertness and rapid heart rate. A show of fear, when startled, is a normal adaptive response that prepares a dog to escape from a possible threat to its safety. The feeling and display of fear can sometimes become harmful.
A dog’s excessive fear can be very damaging to the welfare of the dog. The behavior that results from the fear, such as trembling, whimpering, panting, constantly seeking the owner’s attention or protection and attempting to escape, can cause injury to the dog.
For many dogs, the age that the phobia develops is unknown. With older dogs, the phobia can originate from being exposed to a sudden loud noise that is disturbing. For some pets, they may have been exposed to stressful or loud noises when very young, leaving a bad memory.
Your dogs also may not only be affected by the loud noise, but also the flash of light, the suddenness, the strong smell of sulfur, or the frequency of the noise (e.g. an explosion or a screeching rocket).
The most important aspect of solving a dog’s phobia of fireworks is to manage and de-condition the behavior.
The first step is to avoid doing anything that reinforces the behavior. The fear response will be reinforced if an owner rewards the behavior with extra attention to the dog through petting him or trying to reassure it in any other way. The opposite approach of becoming of becoming angry or reproaching the dog will also be counterproductive. One tactic that may be useful is playing a game with the dog to distract it from the fireworks, or having it play with another dog.
There are treatments for firework phobias but none have been proven to work completely. The two different treatments are drugs and alternative therapies. Some alternative therapies are Thunder Jackets, pheromone, or homeopathic treatments.