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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...

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4 July 2013

How to make fireworks less upsetting for dogs


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Hi Mia,

Well #SPARC2013 is over for this year. Great summary and explanation of the value of scientific discourse! Now onto the next big thing!

In just a few hours, the banging, crashing and booming of fireworks will start here in the States. In NYC, R&B Star Usher is "curating" this year’s Fourth of July fireworks (I just like saying the words "curating" and "Usher" in the same sentence). As we discussed last December, a lot of dogs are not fans of loud noises, whether from the crashing of something that unexpectedly falls, to thunderstorms and of course, fireworks. Here are our posts on fireworks:
One of the main points is: There are ways owners can help their dogs:
  • In one study, nearly half of the owners surveyed reported that their dogs were frightened of loud noises. Noise phobia can show itself through both freezing (catatonic) as well as panic (excessive movement) behaviors.  
  • Most owners of dogs showing fear behaviors in relation to loud noises reported that they were unaware that professional help (from animal behaviorists or veterinarians) was available to help. And owners had not not pursued such help.
  • Classical counter conditioning can help dogs change their emotional state, and thereby, change their outward behavior. Here is a video, by veterinarian Sophia Yin, showing a dog learning that nail clipping is not so bad. The same thing can be used for loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms. 

  • Our earlier posts provide even more suggestions for changing dog emotional states and help dogs be calm and less anxious when exposed to loud noises.
I hope that by talking about this topic often, people realize that they can help dogs decrease their displeasure with loud noises. Or, possibly even work preventatively and help dogs from developing negative associations with loud noises in the first place!

Bye for now!

Julie
Cobb Hecht
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