Fireworks night may be a long way off, but American researchers have been hard at work trying to understand noise phobias in dogs ahead of Independence Day, giving you plenty of time to understand your dog’s needs in advance.
Noise phobia can have a range of problematic symptoms, such as urinating, hiding, chewing, panting, trembling, barking, flatulence and even trying to jump out of a window.
University of Washington psychologist James Ha, who specialises in animal behaviours, has come up with a number of suggestions for what owners can do for the dogs on these loud nights, although each has their positives and negatives.
The three primary ways to deal with noise phobias are management, treatment and drugs.
Management may seem like the most straightforward method to ensure your dog is not scared senseless on bonfire night, as it just requires the owner to remove the dog from the situation. This can mean locking a dog in the basement with music loud enough to block out the fireworks.
Alternatively, they can be taken to a kennel that is far from where they will be exposed to fireworks. However, this may be very far from home. If you do this, you must ensure the dog is accustomed to the kennel before leaving it there, such as a kennel you use when you go away on vacation.
If you want to treat your dog for its condition, then you can use anxiety wraps that apply acupressure or use a counter-conditioning technique, which involves turning the negative stimulus into a positive one.
Mr Ha, who worked on the project with two researchers from Tufts University in Boston, explained how anxiety wraps are good for acute or short-term situations.
"The distinction is, most dog bites and aggression is related to fear and anxiety - of children, of cars, of men - it's a chronic thing. So the anxiety wrap is not going to work on those situations. It's not a magic solution for all forms of anxiety," he continued.
Counter-conditioning meanwhile can be quite hard work and time consuming, but the benefit of this is that it makes the problem go away permanently. It means exposing the dog to low level scares that will not cause the dog to go crazy and at the same time get them used to the sounds. This can mean playing them recordings of fireworks, but not too loudly. If it doesn’t freak out, then you can reward it with a treat to show that it's doing good. Repeating this two to three times a day can have positive effects after a week.
Drugs, on the other hand, can be prescribed by vets to lower anxiety, which works for one-off situations, although this means finding the right drug and the right dose, Mr La insisted.
"If all you're talking about is a few nights, the dog is happier, the dog is better off by not exhibiting anxiety, by not biting or snapping," said Ha.
Written by: Hannah