Dogs have a lot more sensitive hearing than humans. They can hear things 4 times further away than we can. So imagine how loud fireworks and thunderstorms might sound to them! When you combine dogs & loud noises, some dogs want to get out of there. New Year’s day is often shelters and pounds busiest day – reuniting families and pets that have tried to escape the loud noises.
Dogs can also injure themselves while trying to get away. There are things you can do to help reduce or manage anxiety, and resultant behaviour. Unfortunately, this noise-cancelling kennel is just a prototype.
Preparing your Dog for Loud Noises in Advance
When preparing for a new baby to join the family, we advised desensitisation training for crying. The same advice holds for dogs & loud noises. There are tracks on YouTube for thunderstorms and fireworks. Start quietly and slowly work louder each session. Reward your pup for ignoring or not responding to the loud noises.
Crate Training or Swaddling
Train your dog that their crate is a safe place to get away. Covering most of it to make it feel darker and more secure can help as well. You can put them in their crate before a storm/fireworks display, or they may go there themselves. Just like babies feel more secure when being swaddled, some woofers are the same. There are dog-specific products to make swaddling easier for pups with the most well known being Thundershirts. You will need to get your dog familiar with this beforehand.
Check Contact Details
Make sure that your contact details are correct on your dog’s microchip registration. Ensure they have a collar with a tag that has your phone number on it. If your woofer does escape, people that find your fur-baby will be able to contact you.
Short Term: If you know in advance
Exercise and Feed
A worn out dog is going to be more interested in sleep than escaping. Feeding them their main meal just before the event will also have them wanting to snooze it off to help digestion.
Prepare a safe space
If you are not using a crate, then decide where the best place is for your dog. Inside the house is generally quieter than outside. It needs to be secure, so they can not escape on to the street or into the neighbour’s yard. Even if your dog goes cray-cray, it should not be able to hurt itself.
If your dog & loud noises don’t mix, it is best not to leave them alone when you are expecting a noisy event. Either get someone to come around and keep them company or drop them off with someone they know well. Make sure they follow the rest of this advice as well!
At the time of the Loud Noise
Distract, but don’t Reward
It is a good strategy to try to distract your dog, so they don’t focus on the loud noise. Food, treats or games can all work. It is vital that this is a distraction only, and is not a reward for reacting badly to loud noises. You don’t want to train them into reacting, so they then get a reward! Hugging, baby talking and patting may be more reward than comfort.
Your dog will take cues from your behaviour. If you are calm, they will feel it and know everything is ok. You can now also get a pheromone diffuser Adaptil that is supposed to calm dogs. It is based on what mums release for their puppies. Having background noise like the TV or music can also make the loud noises less startling for your dog.
If all this doesn’t work
Tried all this and your dogs & loud noises still don’t mix? There are two other options that you might need to consider using together: a dog behaviourist and your vet. Some medications can help reduce anxiety or more severely, sedate your fur-baby. This should be a last resort and not needed if you follow all the steps above.