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).