Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.

#155 Managing Fireworks Anxiety This 4th of July: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP

June 16, 2024 Will Bangura, M.S., CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult Season 5 Episode 155
#155 Managing Fireworks Anxiety This 4th of July: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
More Info
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
#155 Managing Fireworks Anxiety This 4th of July: Dog Training Today will Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP
Jun 16, 2024 Season 5 Episode 155
Will Bangura, M.S., CAB-ICB, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult

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Want to ensure a stress-free and calm 4th of July for your furry friend? Join me, Will Bangura, as I share effective and compassionate strategies to help your dog manage fireworks anxiety. Discover the signs of severe anxiety, like trembling and drooling, and learn how to create a safe haven for your pet using simple yet powerful methods such as sound-dampening walk-in closets and calming reggae music. We'll debunk common myths about comforting anxious dogs and provide a comprehensive guide on when to consult a veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication.

Tune in for a deep dive into fireworks desensitization and counter conditioning techniques that can transform your dog's experience with loud noises. I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to gradually introduce fireworks sounds paired with positive reinforcement, helping your dog build a more positive association. We'll also discuss the benefits of calming aids, like Thunder Shirts and Dog Appeasing Pheromones, and emphasize the importance of patience and consistency. By the end of this episode, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to make this 4th of July a peaceful celebration for you and your dog.

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

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Send us a Text Message.

Want to ensure a stress-free and calm 4th of July for your furry friend? Join me, Will Bangura, as I share effective and compassionate strategies to help your dog manage fireworks anxiety. Discover the signs of severe anxiety, like trembling and drooling, and learn how to create a safe haven for your pet using simple yet powerful methods such as sound-dampening walk-in closets and calming reggae music. We'll debunk common myths about comforting anxious dogs and provide a comprehensive guide on when to consult a veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication.

Tune in for a deep dive into fireworks desensitization and counter conditioning techniques that can transform your dog's experience with loud noises. I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to gradually introduce fireworks sounds paired with positive reinforcement, helping your dog build a more positive association. We'll also discuss the benefits of calming aids, like Thunder Shirts and Dog Appeasing Pheromones, and emphasize the importance of patience and consistency. By the end of this episode, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to make this 4th of July a peaceful celebration for you and your dog.

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Speaker 1:

Raised by wolves with canine DNA in his blood. Having trained more than 24,000 pets, helping you and your fur babies thrive, live in studio with Will Bangura answering your pet behavior and training questions. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host and favorite pet behavior expert, will Bangura.

Speaker 2:

Good day dog lovers. Hey, I'm Will Bangura. Thanks for joining me for another episode of Dog Training Today, your go-to source for dog training and behavior information. Hey, do me a favor If you love our podcast, please give us a five-star review. Wherever you're listening to the podcast, your support, your reviews mean everything to us. That's how you can say thank you Today.

Speaker 2:

I just want to do a quick podcast about fireworks, anxiety and dogs. You know we've got the 4th of July coming up. It's June 16th right now. By the way, happy Father's Day to all the fathers that are out there. It's Father's Day and all you dog dads. Yesterday was National Dog Day Appreciation Day. So all you dog fathers that are out there, congratulations to you as well. Happy Father's Day.

Speaker 2:

So about 52% of dogs are significantly impacted by fireworks anxiety. They've got sound sensitivities, they've got fears or phobias, and the 4th of July brings upon an incredible amount of problems and stress for these dogs. Like I said, 52% of dogs have noise sensitivities 10% of those dogs. It's going to take them several hours after the fireworks stop to get back to normal, and then there's about 2% of dogs that are going to take months to get back to normal. It's so severe. Now, when it comes to anxiety, you know there's different levels. There's mild anxiety, moderate anxiety, severe anxiety. Now, if you've got a dog that has severe anxiety to sounds I mean, your dog is drooling, trembling, obviously suffering. When you look at your dog panting, pacing, maybe they're actually losing control of their bladder or bowel. When it's that severe, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Talk about anti-anxiety medication for your dog for the 4th of July. Now we're going to talk about what you can do as far as behavior modification to help desensitize your dog to fireworks. But not every dog, not every pet parent, is going to have the same level of success desensitizing and not every pet, not every pet parent, is going to be able to get the work done quickly enough for the fourth of july. You've got about three weeks right now if you wanted to work on desensitization. But again, if you've got a dog and you know it's severe, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medication and I encourage you. I encourage you to keep your dog comfortable. Again, if your dog is that severely fearful of the fireworks, this is a full-blown panic attack. Think about if that's you. There's no need for your dog to suffer.

Speaker 2:

Now let's talk about what you can do to help make the 4th of July and all the crazy firework sounds that your dog is going to hear more comfortable for your dog. One of the things you want to do is create a safe place for your dog. Now, one of the best places that you can create a safe spot for your dog for the 4th of July is in a walk-in closet. If you've got a large closet or a closet that has lots of clothes in it, that makes like a sound dampening material. You get into a large closet like that with clothes and close that door and all of those clothes kind of muffled the sounds. Again, it's kind of like a sound dampening, soundproof room much quieter.

Speaker 2:

Now what I like to also do is bring in water for the dog, bring in the food for the dog, have some puzzles you know mental stimulation games, puzzles that we can put treats in other toys and shoes that your dog likes. And then I'm also going to bring in a speaker or I'm going to be playing some music over my smartphone and studies have shown matter of fact, the american kennel club um also identified this that the, the music that dogs like the most, what will calm them the most, is reggae. So I don't know if you I love reggae, I don't know if you like reggae, but dogs apparently love reggae they also. They also like classical music and they like soft jazz, like more modern contemporary jazz, but reggae yeah. So we're in the closet. It's quiet in there. I've got all my dog's favorite toys and games. I've got water. I've got food for my dog. We're playing the reggae music. I've got water. I've got food for my dog. We're playing the reggae music. And that is kind of background sound to kind of muffle or to use as white noise, background noise to kind of displace the sound of the fireworks and make it not so bad. Now I'm going to stay in there with my dog when the fireworks are going off and I'm going to comfort my dog. I'm going to stay in there with my dog when the fireworks are going off and I'm going to comfort my dog. I'm going to try to distract my dog with toys and games and doing fun things with my dog.

Speaker 2:

And people say, well, you can't coddle the dog if the dog is scared. Yes, you can. That does not reinforce the behavior. That's a myth. It's a total and complete myth and we need to take a minute to dispel this.

Speaker 2:

Listen, giving your dogs comfort, giving them emotional support, is critical. Dogs are highly sensitive to their pet parents' emotions and behaviors. When you comfort your dog, you provide a source of emotional support that can help them feel safer and more secure. Your presence and soothing actions can lower their stress levels and help them cope with their fear-induced situation. When a dog is fearful, their bodies release stress hormones such as cortisol. Well, physical contact, like petting and holding your dog that's been shown to reduce those stress hormones, leading to a calming effect. This is similar to how comforting a distressed human can help them feel better. Dogs form a really strong bond with their pet parents and feeling secure in those bonds can really help minimize that anxiety. By comforting your dog, you reinforce the idea that you're there. You're there to protect and care for them, and that can enhance their sense of well-being and security.

Speaker 2:

Now let's debunk the myth positive reinforcement of fear, and that myth is out there. And that myth says that comforting a fearful dog will reinforce their fear, and that's rooted in a misunderstanding of how dogs learn. Now here's why that belief is incorrect. Okay, let's talk about fear versus behavior Now. Fear is an emotional response, not a behavior. That can be reinforced through positive reinforcement. When a dog is afraid, they're not performing a voluntary behavior that can be rewarded or punished Okay. Instead, they're experiencing an involuntary emotional state. You providing comfort that helps with their emotional state. It's got nothing to do with their behavior. Like I said, it's a complete, total myth. Yes, you want to love your dog.

Speaker 2:

Listen, comforting a fearful dog can actually help change their emotional response to the fear inducing stimulus, in this case fireworks. This process, known as classical conditioning, can help your dog associate the scary event with positive experiences. For example, if your dog receives soothing, petting and a calm voice during fireworks, they may start to associate the noise with the comfort that you provide, reducing their fear over time. You know, comforting your dog when they're afraid, that is something that builds trust and strengthens your bond with your dog. A dog that trusts their pet parent is more likely to feel secure and less anxious overall. Ignoring your dog's fear or withholding comfort that can increase their anxiety and that can damage the trust between you and your dog.

Speaker 2:

Now, when you're comforting your dog, you want to ensure that you're providing the most effective support, one of the things you need to do yourself stay calm. Yeah, your dog looks to you for cues how to react. You need to stay calm. You need to be composed to be able to reassure your pet that there's no real danger. You staying calm, that's important. We talked about providing physical comfort gently petting your dog, holding your dog, allowing your dog to sit close to you All those things can provide immediate comfort. Talking to them in a soft, soothing voice.

Speaker 2:

Consider using calming aids such as the Calm Dog Supplement to help manage your dog's anxiety. These calming aids can be particularly helpful during high stress situations like fireworks and thunderstorms. You can find out more about Calm Dogs, the natural dog anxiety relief calming aid, by going to doganxietycom. That's doganxietycom. Look for Calm Dogs. It comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. I guess it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. I guess If you take Calm Dogs at the right dose for your dog twice daily for 45 days, if you don't see an improvement in your dog's anxiety, it's free. It comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Again, that's Calm Dogs. You can find out more at doganxietycom.

Speaker 2:

We talked earlier about creating that safe space, making sure that your dog has a comfortable, quiet place to retreat to when they're scared. All right, don't leave. If you've got a dog that has a fear of fireworks, don't go leave to check out the fireworks. You need to be there with your dog, comforting your dog, you need to make sure that your dog is safe. And you know, the 4th of July and the days before it and after it, those are the busiest days for shelters, rescue organization, the county pound. Why? Because dogs, when they're afraid yeah, a lot of them try to escape and they do. They escape through a door. There are dogs that have busted through windows because they were so afraid, dug underneath walls, fences, gates to get out and escape. Dogs that were crated, breaking through the crate, breaking their teeth, trying to bite the bars on it, scraping up and bloodying their pads of their paws and their nose. Yeah, they can escape. They can hurt themselves. You need to be there with them. And also, you know, make sure that you've got an ID tag on your dog, make sure your dog is microchipped just in case they do get out. But you need to be there with your pet, you need to be there with your dog. Other things that can help are compression vests, like the Thunder Shirt dog appeasing pheromone, which is a synthesized pheromone that is supposed to mimic a calming pheromone that the mama dog puts out when she gives birth and there is a litter to help the puppies be calmer. Again, that's dog appeasing pheromone.

Speaker 2:

Now let's talk about desensitization, training OK, you've got some time now and whether you can truly get your dog desensitized to the sound of fireworks. If you started today, what is it? June 16th, today, right, if you started today, june 16th, and you know, let's say that you know people in your neighborhood, they start blowing off fireworks, you know, the day before the third. So you've got one, two, three. Yeah, you've got two weeks two, one. Yeah, you've got all of this week, all of next week and a couple days of the following week. But there's a couple ways Gradual, systematic desensitization is slowly, gradually getting used to the sound of fireworks and what you would do is you would get recorded fireworks sound and, trust me, you can get tons of sounds of recorded fireworks on YouTube. If you want to go to my website, my local website, phoenixdogtrainingcom that's phoenixdogtrainingcom forward slash sounds, plural with an S phoenixdogtrainingcom forward slash sounds. If you go to that page, you're going to see YouTube video after YouTube video after YouTube video of various different sounds to help desensitize dogs. One of those in that list as you go through that page are going to be fireworks.

Speaker 2:

Now the first thing you need to do is begin playing those fireworks sounds at the absolute lowest volume when your dog hears it. Your dog should be able to hear it, but not have a care in the world, and you can press play and just go about your business as long as the dog doesn't have a care in the world and just let it play and let it loop over and over until it means nothing to your dog and then, after a day or so of playing that, turn it up just a little bit. Keep it looped, keep playing it over and over. Watch your dog for signs of stress. If your dog starts showing any even the mildest sign of stress, you've got the volume too high. Bring it down lower and just play it. Just let it play. Leave the house. As long as your dog is not showing any signs of stress, let it play. Now I prefer you to stay home when you're doing this, but I'm talking about just pure desensitization.

Speaker 2:

You know, like there's that story of somebody that buys a house near a train. There's a train track right by the house or there's a flight line right over their house and they didn't realize it when they bought the house. And now they moved in and the sound of the train going by every night is driving them crazy, or the sound of the plane flying overheads driving them crazy. They're so aware of it but in time, over time, they even forget that that's there. Those sounds disappear. Why? Because they get used to them, because they hear them over and over and over.

Speaker 2:

But if you start with a fear, you need to play that at the lowest volume possible. Watch your dog, make sure that they don't have any stress. Play that as much as possible, gradually, over time, slowly, systematically, just bring it up a tiny bit, maybe the next day a little bit louder and then maybe the day after that just a little bit louder even more. Watch your dog. Your dog's feedback, by its body language, lets you know whether or not your dog is experiencing stress. They need to be able to take treats. If you ask them to do things like sit or shake or roll over or lay down, they should be able to willingly do that. They're not trying to hide, they're not panting, they're not pacing, they don't look worried because of the sound. It's just quiet background noise. And little by little. You're bringing the volume up over days and in many cases weeks.

Speaker 2:

If your dog is very severe, it's going to take longer for your dog to get used to the sounds. Now if you want to speed up this process, you can add doing counter conditioning to help that desensitization. Counter conditioning is just a fancy term for pairing something positive, creating positive associations with the thing that the dog finds scary. Example if you're doing counter conditioning you would press play and the sound of the fireworks would start again at the lowest volume where your dog has no stress. But in counter conditioning you press play as soon as the sound of the fireworks start. As soon as it starts, you're going to start feeding your dog food. All right, yes, all right. So when you're playing you're not going to have stars and stripes forever playing in the background by Philip Sousa, but you're going to play the sound of the fireworks and you press play as soon as your dog starts to hear it.

Speaker 2:

You're going to feed, feed, feed, feed, feed, constantly and continuously as long as the sound of the fireworks are happening, and then you press stop and you stop feeding. Wait a few seconds, press play as soon as the fireworks start up again. Feed, feed, feed, feed, feed, constantly and continuously the whole time. As soon as the fireworks start up, again feed, feed, feed, feed, feed, constantly and continuously the whole time the sound of the fireworks are happening About one to three seconds, press stop, Stop feeding Again, pause, rinse and repeat.

Speaker 2:

Do that over and over and over. You're creating a positive association. Give very high value food rewards like little, tiny cut up pieces of chicken, cut up pieces of beef, tiny, tiny, tiny pieces of some kind of food reward that your dog just loves. The higher the value, the better. Pairing and associating that food with the sound of fireworks again playing at a super low volume, making sure their body language is showing you, hey, they don't have a care in the world. And doing that over and over, but very gradually, very slowly again over days, if not weeks, bringing the sound, the volume of those fireworks up a little bit at a time, and that's counter conditioning. So doing counter conditioning and desensitization is an absolute must.

Speaker 2:

If you've got a dog that's afraid of fireworks and has that anxiety, yes, you can help your dog with calming aids, like Calm Dogs, which you can get at doganxietycom, like Dog Appeasing Pheromone, which you can get pretty much at any pet store like a Thunder Shirt. Those are all things that you can do to help aid your dog, including if you've got a dog that's very severe. You may need to think about anti-anxiety medication. Talking to your vet. Now, I'm not a veterinarian. I can't give out veterinary advice. I can't give out medical advice. But even my own dogs, before they were desensitized to fireworks, the first couple years, maybe the first two years we used medication. I used medication with my dog and there's absolutely nothing wrong nothing wrong at all in using medication. If you've got a dog that has severe anxiety and you've not had enough time to do the work to get your dog completely desensitized to the fireworks, don't be afraid to ask for medication to help your dog.

Speaker 2:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that music means we are just about out of time. I'm Will Bangura. You've been listening to Dog Training Today. Do me a favor, please. If you love what we do, give us a five-star review. Hit that like button. Please share this with your friends and families and also please subscribe. Hit that subscribe button so that you never miss an episode of Dog Training Today. Hey, and visit my website at dogbehavioristcom If you've got a problem with your dog and you're looking for help. You can get all the help you need at dogbehavioristcom. I'm Will Bangora. Have a great week everybody. I'm out of here when I come week.

Speaker 1:

everybody, I'm out of here.

Dog Training and Fireworks Anxiety
Fireworks Desensitization and Counter Conditioning