Ask Seth: Anxiety in Dogs
My dog, Buddy, is scared when he hears fireworks or thunderstorms. What can I do to help ease dog anxiety?
Our first instinct is to comfort the upset or scared dog from the unknown noise. When this happens this is telling the dog that it is okay to be scared of the noise. Then when the next time it occurs, they think it is okay because my owners are going to cuddle me, thus making the behaviour worse.
It is very important that you do not reassure your pet if it is getting very distressed. As we have already said, this simply helps reinforce the fear. It is much better to give your dog a quiet safe place they can be for the evening, and for him/her to stay there. You can be in the room too if that will help keep your pet relaxed. If your pet is relaxed when fireworks are going off, you can praise them for this; it can reinforce the correct, and relaxed response to fireworks. Once the fireworks have started, you can do a few things around the house to help reduce the anxiety. Keeping your pets indoors, closing all the windows, and shutting the curtains helps reduce the sounds/lights coming into the home. You should also play some loud music, or put the TV on loud, to help drown out the external noises. If you find that your pet is getting worse and his anxiety is growing, speak with your veterinarian regarding sedatives or anti-anxiety medications.
Does your dog get anxious when there are loud noises? What do you do to ease the anxiety? Share your tips with us in the comments!