You might think it’s far too early in the year to be preparing your pets for the loud bangs of ‘firework season’ - think again. With less than six months to go until the skies start lighting up again in Worcestershire, the team at Clent Hills Vets say that noise desensitisation programmes should ideally be started now.
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Why are dogs scared of loud noises?
Dogs can fear loud noises because of a previous bad experience, or because they haven’t encountered a noise like it before. A dog’s hearing is much more sensitive than a human’s so what might seem quiet to you, could be loud to your dog.
Noise sensitivity can also be brought on by a health condition, or your pet may have experienced pain (such as arthritis) when there were loud noises and has associated the two sensations. Always bring your pet for a check-up at our Bromsgrove, Hagley or Rubery practice if you are concerned - book a check-up.
What is a noise desensitisation programme?
For dogs, Clent Hills’ nursing team typically recommend that noise desensitisation programmes are done during their puppy socialisation period and should include a range of noises such as:
- TV and Radio
- Children playing
Older puppies and dogs are not ‘too old to learn’, they may just take a little longer. Whether your pet has been through ‘loud noise’ training or not, they may still be afraid of fireworks. These events only happen a few times in the year and many owners aren’t sure how to replicate the experience.
The aim of a noise desensitisation programme is to help your pet remain calm and non-reactive when there are loud noises and ultimately reduce their fear of them.
When it comes to fireworks, this can be best achieved by starting months in advance of ‘firework season’ (end of October through to New Year) and with regular short sessions. That way, you will have plenty of time to build your dog’s confidence and not overwhelm them. As you work through the sessions with your pet, ensure that you remain calm and offer lots of praise and treats to help them create positive associations with the sounds.
Replicating the sounds of fireworks
You can purchase a CD from the PDSA to help puppies and dogs learn to cope with loud noises – view here.
You can also choose a playlist on Spotify for firework sounds.
Our Bromsgrove team have put together a short guide to help you plan a noise desensitisation programme for your dog – download our guide.
More help for your dog’s noise sensitivity
Some dogs may continue to struggle with loud noises. Clent Hills’ nursing team recommends talking to one of our experienced Vets for advice. They will be able to check for any medical problems that could be contributing to your dog’s noise sensitivity. The Vet may also suggest enlisting the help of an accredited pet behaviourist.
We hope you found our advice helpful and when ‘firework season’ comes around, we hope your dog will have learnt to cope better. Remember, there are lots of things you can do during noisy events such as using the TV, radio, or playtime to distract your pet.
There’s no time to lose, download our guide and get started today. Let us know how you get on by sharing your comments on our Facebook page.
Get our loud noise guide for dogs
Author: Amy Holloway