Summertime just bursts with things to do and it seems we never have enough time to do it all. My dogs and I are big fans of training of course, so we like to work on things like
Thunderstorms and fireworks are stressful on many dogs- up to 50% of dogs! They have both already begun but there are bound to be more. Desensitizing our dogs to them is an ongoing practice. Even if you haven't seen stress from your dog related to these things, I guarantee you they will appreciate what's involved with the desensitization process so go ahead and work on it as a preventative measure. You never know when fears might crop up. Far better to be proactive.
Ahead of time- don't wait for a storm or your neighbor's random fireworks display. You can find recordings of fireworks on the internet. Get yourself some great treats and turn the volume way down low before beginning to play it. As it plays, just quietly feed your dog treats. When the treats run out, turn it off and that's session one complete! If your dog doesn't seem to notice the sound, that's ok! Don't turn it up. Good desensitization work happens when the dog is below threshold. If you turn it up until he is reacting, you've already pushed them over threshold. The next session you can turn the volume up just one notch and repeat feeding treats while it plays. Each time you will progress a little further up the volume scale. Each time your dog will learn that the sound of thunder (or fireworks, or whatever sounds you are working with) predicts treats and along with that comes happy emotions instead of scared emotions.
There was an interesting article recently about how effective this is when taking the physics of sound into account. If you would like to learn more about this, you can read the article in the Whole Dog Journal.
Putting one of these on before you begin your desensitization sessions is a great way to help your dog predict that a nice snuggle with you while eating snacks is about to begin. This is another reason not to push them over threshold! You don't want them to predict that putting something on means something scary is about to happen. Instead, it should predict a relaxing and enjoyable time with his person (and there's that funny but quiet sound in the background but no worries).
If you or your dog aren't the snuggle on the couch type, playing a fun game can be another activity to take your dog's mind off the noises.
Finally, if none of these are sufficient, please speak to your dog's veterinarian about the possibility of calming medication to have on hand.
Send me an email if you want to schedule a session for more detailed help. Or go ahead and schedule it. My website now allows you to sign up, pay, and schedule.
And don't forget to add bones to your grocery list!