The summer months can be lots of fun for you and your dog but they also pose some special challenges. Specifically, the noise from holiday fireworks and thunderstorms can be upsetting to many dogs. Even dogs who have never been bothered by these loud noises before can suddenly develop fears about them as they get older.

If your dog has issues with fireworks or thunderstorms, we have some suggestions for you so you can help your dog.

Dealing with loud noises in general

Most puppies are unaffected by loud noises. They don’t yet have any fears or negative experiences associated with noise. You can encourage your puppy to take noise in stride by petting him, playing with him, and showing him that things are fun if someone in the neighborhood is shooting off fireworks or if there’s thunder. Your puppy will take his cues from you and your attitude. When there is noise you should:

  • Stay positive and upbeat
  • Play with your puppy with toys
  • Keep your puppy entertained
  • Act like the noise is no big deal

You should not do the following things:

  • Do not make soothing sounds
  • Do not coddle, cuddle your puppy or offer sympathy
  • Don’t act like the noise is scary

If you do any of these things, your puppy will think that the noise is something to fear. The more you cuddle and soothe him, the more convinced he will be that he should be afraid! It doesn’t take very long for a puppy to become a basket case when he hears any kind of loud noise.

The happier you act when there is any kind of fireworks noise or thunder, the easier it will be for your puppy to think the noise is okay. Show him that the noise is good or no big deal.

Socialization

Puppies and dogs that are well-socialized are also better able to cope with loud noises. These dogs are typically calmer and they have more self-confidence. They are less likely to become fearful when they hear unexpected noises. It’s easiest to start socializing a dog when he’s a puppy but you can work on socialization with a dog at any age.

Fireworks

If your dog is scared of the noise associated with fireworks, there are some things you can do to help him.

  • Do not take him to fireworks displays
  • Do not put him outside when you know there will be fireworks, such as the 4th of July
  • Make sure your dog is safely indoors when you expect fireworks
  • Turn up the TV or stereo to drown out the noise
  • Consider staying home with your dog to keep him company when you expect fireworks nearby
  • Ask your veterinarian for a sedative for your dog if he still has problems relaxing when fireworks are expected

You can also work on desensitizing your dog to the noise associated with fireworks. This involves recording the sounds of fireworks and playing them for your dog. You start with the sound very low and gradually increase it until your dog becomes comfortable with the actual noise level.

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms can be a little trickier than fireworks since some dogs are also sensitive to the static electricity in the air and the drop in air pressure, and not just the noise. They can sense a storm approaching several minutes before there is any thunder. If your dog gives you this kind of warning about an approaching storm there are several things you can do to help him. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use a thundershirt for your dog. A thundershirt wraps snugly around a dog’s body and gives him a feeling of comfort. It also keeps static away from his body. You can also use a snug-fitting T-shirt or tube top for the same purpose.
  • Give your dog a gentle herb to calm him such as valerian. Valerian is used to help people sleep and relax and it helps many dogs with anxiety about storms. You can also use rescue remedy made from flower essences.
  • Some dogs like to take cover in a place where static electricity won’t collect, such as a bathtub. If your dog heads for the bathtub or the tile floor in the bathroom, let him go there. These places make him feel more secure.
  • Finally, you can also work on desensitizing your dog to thunderstorms the same way you work on fireworks. Record the sounds of a storm and start by playing it for your dog very quietly. You can gradually increase the sound level until your dog is comfortable with the full sound.

thundershirt

Noise phobias are not easy to overcome but you can help your dog get through them.