Fireworks and Fear: Helping Your Dog Cope

Fireworks aren’t fun for the dogs in our life but could they be? Probably not, but maybe they could be a little less awful.

If you’ve read any of our posts about our dog Boo Radley you would know that Boo is afraid of a lot. The vacuum, the laundry basket, the heat vents. You name it he’s worried about it.

When we first brought him home he was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks as well and he would literally try to dig his way into the drywall. It was very upsetting for all of us. I couldn’t find a way to calm him. I’d shut all the windows to try to reduce the sound, turn music on for background noise. We bought a ThunderCoat for him and he chewed threw it in about 10 minutes. We thought the only thing that was going to work was medicating him.

One night there was a storm coming and Boo was getting nervous so we started playing a game with him. It was a game a dog trainer taught us when we first got him. She called it puppy popcorn but really it’s more of a hide and seek game.

My husband and I each have treats and my husband sits with Boo while I hide somewhere in the house. Once I hide I call the dogs name and he comes to find me. Once he finds me I give him a treat. While Boo is trying to find me my husband hides. We play until he’s tired and usually he’s so busy he forgets about the storm or fireworks. That game has worked miracles for Boo and for us. It’s fun too. We have a good laugh when he runs past us or finds us faster than we thought.

The amazing thing about playing that game is that now even if we can’t play the game when fireworks go off near us he’s not trying to dig himself into the drywall. He still doesn’t love them but he’s no longer a danger to himself either.

Relieve the stress from fireworks by playing games.
Playing games with your dog could relieve the stress from the noise of fireworks.

It can be a long week if you live in a neighborhood where people are lighting off fireworks every night for the first week in July. I hope this game helps you and your dog relax and have fun.

Remember hide, call your dog, reward them when they find you, repeat.