Noises make pets nervous. So, it’s no surprise that fireworks – a barrage of sudden, loud noises – can send them into a tailspin. For some pets, the Fourth of July is an anxiety-inducing nightmare. But with a little preparation and understanding, you can help your pet cope with the noise and enjoy the holiday safely. Here are three tips to get started.
#1: Reduce your pet’s exposure to their sound triggers
If you know your pet is scared of loud sounds related to home improvement repairs, make boarding reservations for the time you plan on using power tools. Or, if you know a thunderstorm is headed your way, move to the quietest room in your home and drown out the thunder with classical music, white noise, or your pet’s favorite TV show. Avoid walking your pet in areas with heavy traffic, or near large gatherings and events, as these loud sounds also can be triggers for noise aversion.
#2: Use behavioral modification to change the way your pet views loud sounds
Behavioral modification techniques, such as desensitization and counterconditioning, take time, but they produce significant results. These methods focus on pairing your pet’s trigger, such as the booms of fireworks, with something positive, like a high-value treat. To begin, play a soundtrack of a loud sound (e.g., thunderstorms, fireworks, traffic, etc.) at a low enough volume so as to not trigger a fear response in your pet. As they behave calmly, give them treats and praise. Slowly increase the volume, offering rewards the entire time. These sessions often take weeks of repetition before your pet is comfortable around their trigger sound when they encounter it naturally, so don’t give up.
#3: Ask your veterinarian for help
Some pets are so fearful of loud sounds, they can harm themselves trying to dig, chew, or scratch through walls, floors, or their crate. In these cases—and in more moderate ones—anti-anxiety medication can be a great help. Speak to our veterinarian about your options if your pet is suffering from noise aversion despite at-home coping techniques.
Living in fear of loud sounds is no fun, especially when July Fourth fireworks shows start up. Help your furry pal remain calm by scheduling a behavioral consultation with our team.