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My dog is terrified of fireworks. With 1 or 2 bangs, I can calm her down easily by playing or offering treats. But if there are more bangs and they happen quite often, it's impossible to get her to calm down.

I tried desensitizing with fireworks sound from the internet, but that doesn't work. She's not stupid, she knows it comes from computer (doesn't mind explosions from movies and games, no matter how loud they are).

Any suggestions? Maybe someone has a good idea how to simulate real fireworks under controlled circumstances?

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Usually you would start the process in, say, early summer. It’s a gradual desensitization, where you introduce one scary thing at a time, keep as much distance as necessary and decrease that distance very carefully and slowly. The goal is to never let her be really scared, pay attention to the little stress signs and body language. If she’s uncomfortable for a moment and then relaxes, fine. Arm yourself with treats and your best „Zen“ attitude. Do not try to actively „calm“ her, many dogs will see that as confirmation that something is afoul.

  • Step 1 is firework sounds, but if she’s fine with that, you can maybe start with step 2.
  • Step 2 would introduce the smell of fireworks, for that those tiny bang snaps are good. Have a helper throw them quite far from the dog, while you are standing (sitting, kneeling) relaxed with her, rewarding her for being calm.
  • Step 3 is going to an actual fireworks display, many cities have fireworks over the summer - although Covid may nix those plans. Now, obviously you don’t want to be smack dab in the middle of the party, but find a comfortable spot from where you can see the show, but be quite far away. Ideally your dog will be happily sniffing around and not paying much attention to the fireworks. (Aren’t you happy that you started the training so early that you can do that before Dec. 31st?)
    If that’s not feasible, try to step up the previous step a bit with louder and brighter stuff. In our country „kids fireworks“ is available year-round, while the „big rockets“ are restricted. So if you need „training material“, that’s a suitable option. Sparklers should also be easy to get, check the party supplies. But please be careful, never let your dog near one and they can damage clothing and spectacles.

No matter how well you have trained her, I would highly recommend that during the days around Silvester she should be always secured with a leash and harness when outdoors, and if possible, stay with her inside during the fireworks (but don’t do the “excess calming”, as explained above).

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  • Yea, we are bit late with it, but anything helps i hope. Gona find tohse bang snaps and try it out. Luckily thissyear there is reeduced amount of fireworks in my area. – Marko Taht Dec 23 '20 at 18:54
  • Same here - ours is just five months old and we were so busy with other things. Good luck! – Stephie Dec 23 '20 at 18:59
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I find with my dogs turning on the TV during Holidays such as the 4th of July really helps them. You cannot completely stop them from being afraid but having distractions such as the TV, snuggles, and even just talking loudly to other people in the house. I've had 3 dogs throughout the years who've been terrified of fireworks, gunshots, and lightning all very common when you live on a farm like I do. Doing things as mentioned above have really helped. Starting with desensitizing them as puppies is the best way to overcome fears of loud noises. Adult dogs are extremely hard (especially hounds who have no brain from my experience. No brains but plenty of love and laughs) so it really depends on the intelligence of the dog. A golden retriever could easily be trained to do it ( if you do it correctly and take things slow) but a dog that wasn't bred for intelligence will be a lot more difficult to train.

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