While fireworks phobia can be difficult to overcome, these tips will help you have successful training sessions with your pet.
- Find a realistic recording because not all pre-recorded tracks are created equal. I was using a track that I found on YouTube but I quickly realized that my dog Zoe wasn’t reacting to the fireworks sounds because they sounded too fake. She could tell that they were coming from my laptop. I went on YouTube to hunt for a video of a real fireworks show and found one that featured a family shooting off fireworks in the middle of the street. This track sounded far more realistic than the old one I was using and Zoe hasn’t yet realized that it is fake.
- Increase the bass on your video or pre-recorded track. Once I found a realistic track, I downloaded it to my laptop and turned it into an AAC file so that I can play it on iTunes. From there, I used the equalizer to increase the bass so that it would sound even more realistic.
- Hide the laptop or iPod in another room. If you’re using a laptop or another kind of stereo system, hide it in another room and enlist a friend or family member to help you control both the volume and the bass so that it appears to your dog that the fireworks sounds are coming from the outside.
- Move the sound system outside. Once your dog has gotten more comfortable with the fireworks sounds inside the home, you can also play them outside from your iPod or your laptop in order to mimic what the real ones would sound like. Not only will this decrease your chances of your pet realizing that the sounds are not real fireworks, it is as close as you can get to re-creating the real thing.
- Make sure to use continuous treats during the session; don’t just give them one at a time. I personally like to break up pieces of grilled chicken into tiny sections so I can scatter them on the floor for Zoe but you can also use something like Kong’s Stuff’N Easy Treats line if you want an easier way to feed your dog. Remember, however, that the fireworks sound must be heard before you give the first treat. The sound needs to ‘cause’ the treats to appear.
With these simple adjustments, your counterconditioning sessions for dogs that are afraid of fireworks will be much more effective and sound more realistic.
About the Author:
Amanda Ferris is an accomplished writer who has written for sites such as TheThings, IndieReader, Fashion&Style, and New York Family. For the past five years, she has volunteered for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn’s very own Love Wanted Pet Adoptions. She currently owns a laid-back 12-year old Bichon Frise named Esme, and a 3-year-old fearful mystery mutt named Zoe whose noise phobia and anxiety sparked her foray into the world of positive reinforcement dog training.