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Old 01.08.2021, 15:08
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Re: August 1 and all that noise

Private fireworks started around 6Am today, and have been going off randomly ever since.

Since there are several new EF dog owners this year, some of the advice posted on this thread from years ago probably bears repeating:

1. Safety First and Foremost - keep your friend on lead today!

Even the best trained dog can bolt and run unthinkingly when frightened, so full of adrenalin in the moment that recall goes out the window. Every year dogs are lost on 1 August, and sadly some don't make it home.

If this is your first 1 August with your dog, please take extra care. You don't yet know how your dog might react. When you go outside stay on lead at all times. If your garden is anything short of a fortress, go out on lead even in your garden today. Better safe than sorry.

And if you usually take your dog's tags off at home, consider leaving the collar/harness on today. Yes, a dog is identifiable via the microchip, but that requires a scanner, and a finder might not be able to get your dog to a vet or to the police for a few days. If the dog is wearing tags with your phone number you might be reunited more quickly.

2. Fear and bladders

A typical fear reaction is refusal to piddle. So take your dog out to empty his bladder earlier in the day, whenever things are quiet, before all hell breaks loose. (Usually the loudest of the private fireworks starts after dinner, building to midnight.) Many dogs continue to be afraid the next morning, as the odor of smoke lingers.

I stress this because you don't want to add physical discomfort to an already fear-stressed dog.

3. Give your dog comfort if he asks for it. Keep calm and carry on - but don't ignore him.

The old advice to ignore your dog's fear has pretty much been debunked as leading to even greater stress. He can't cope on his own, he is showing you that by seeking you out. If your dog seeks you out for comfort, acknowledge him, give him low-key comfort while keeping calm and unruffled yourself. Obviously don't go overboard, for instance don't use a higher register voice that might sound like you are panicing yourself.

Fear is an emotion, not a behavior. Low key comforting your dog will not reinforce his fear. - rather the opposite. A good video by Emily Larlham, referencing Patricia McConnell - two behaviorists whose work I admire:

Tomorrow, after you've learned how your dog reacts to fireworks, if necessary consider a CC/DS program with an eye towards Silvester. A good discussion to have with your trainer.

Hope you and your canine (and feline and feathered) friends stay safe tonight.
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