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The Firework Season: How to Keep Your Dog Calm and Safe

I get that many states are done with Fireworks after the 4th of July. Because we have Pioneer day in Utah I wanted to discuss how to be proactive with your dog during the Firework season. Depending on where you live fireworks can continue onward for almost the full month of July!  Unfortunately, many dogs become scared during this season and it is easy for you to lose to your dog. We also want to provide you with some information to keep your dog more calm during this season.

Here are a few firework safety tips.

1.) Keep your dog indoors.  If your dog is outside and he hears fireworks he may become scared and easily jump the fence in the backyard or figure how to open the gate.  Even if your dog usually stays in the yard his behavior might be drastically different during the firework season.

2.) Keep in mind that your dog’s behavior maybe different on leash walks.  I recommend walking your dog in the morning or afternoon.  Once evening arises at 6pm or later many people will be playing with fireworks.  If I walked Seiki too late in the day during the firework season, he would dart all over the place on his leash walks.  He was so stressed that he was unable to perform obedience commands.

3.) It is best to keep your dog on leash during walks unless you are certain that you are walking your dog at a time of day that no fireworks will occur.  Remember if your dog becomes scared his first reaction might be to run from you.  If he is scared listening to your commands will be difficult for your dog.

If your dog does become super scared around fireworks there are remedies you can use to calm your dog.  I would love to say that if you perform consistent dog training that your dog will eventually calm during firework season but that is probably not true.  “One reason noise phobias are so hard to treat is that the amygdala contains some specialized neurons that don’t habituate to the sound stimulus, but rather continue to fire.  These particular neurons are activated only by very loud noises and will always fire when stimulated by them.  Learning has nothing to do with it, which is why behavior modification and training so seldom help these dogs.” – The Big Bang! How you can hep your dog cop with thunderstorms and fireworks by Claudeen E. McAuliffe, M.Ed.

When your dog hears the scary sound there are a few neural pathways that fire in your dog’s brain.  The biggest issue is the pathway that shoots from the thalamus of the brain to the amygdala. This pathway fires quickly and cannot be alternated through counter conditioning or dog training.  Salt Lake City has a long firework season. For some of you it might be important to resolve this issue.  Once the amygdala fires the dog kicks into survival mode and then immediately responds with fearful behavior.  The best solutions will be created through remedies.

Below is a list of options.  Of course if you want more detailed support please check out The Big Bang! How you can hep your dog cop with thunderstorms and fireworks by Claudeen E. McAuliffe, M.Ed. Applying these remedies from this book will worked better than applying techniques involving dog training.  Salt Lake City has many clients where I have applied many or some of these remedies with success!

1.) The Thundershirt works wonders for some dogs.  There is also a product called the Storm Defender which I personally have not tried but it looks similar to the Thundershirt.

2.) Bach Flowers such as Rescue Remedy, Mimulus, Aspen and Rock Rose can be supportive.

3.) Essential Oils such as Rose and Lavendar oil are great for stress reduction.  Drop a few oils on a bandana and wrap the bandana around your dog’s neck.

4.) DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromones) is a pheromone that has been chemically reproduced. This pheromone is given off by the mother to their young.  However, the same pheromone also works on adult dogs to calm them.

5.) Acupressure can work wonders.  You can easily learn about acupressure on your own. A great book is The Well Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure, by Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis.

6.) The Tellington TTouch Method can create endorphins in your dog’s body that can reduce stress.

7.) Classical Music especially from Through a Dog’s Ear can be effective.  Click here to listen to a sample.

8.) Deep belly breathing on the owner’s part is paramount to create more relaxation.  Even if you consciously don’t feel stressed more than likely you are absorbing some stress from your dog. Breathing will allow these emotions to run through you and create more calmness for your dog.

9.) Intention setting is also extremely important.  What you intend affects your results. I recommend hanging an intention statement in your home and reading it during the time of the fireworks.  A great intention statement is positive and helps keep yourself calm.  An example could be:  I intend to create presence and connection with my dog.  Subconsciously we tend to feel the same emotions as our dog.  As a result, our actions are not grounded and clear but instead are reactive.  We then unintentionally reinforce our dog’s fearful behavior.

The best way to create a calm dog during the firework season is to practice and use multiple remedies. If your dog shows extreme fear it is unlikely that one remedy alone will make a world of difference. Consider journaling which remedies are making a minor difference and compile the usage of multiple remedies together.  As a result. your dog will show more obedience because he is calmer.

We want to hear from you in a comment below!

What have you learned about fireworks in relation to your dog? What questions do you have?


Johanna Teresi, Professional Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC, Dog Training, Salt Lake City

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Britnie Sorensen
Britnie Sorensen
18:11 06 Apr 24
This is our second round of training with Johanna! Our Bullmastiff Abbi is different from our previous dogs, and we knew Johanna would be able to help us. We reached out and were in excellent hands! Johanna was able to redirect our training efforts, majority of sessions were held virtually and supported with videos of us training Abbi. We will keep using Johanna no matter where life takes us. Her love and compassion for our puppy, and us, come through in every interaction. We are in a much better place and understanding of Abbi after working with Johanna!
Roberta Bonnell
Roberta Bonnell
01:37 24 Mar 24
My Australian Shepard had moderate separation anxiety and Johanna was able to help me get him to a point where I can see him being able to be home alone before the end of the year! Very grateful for all of her training expertise.
Karen Mara
Karen Mara
21:19 21 Jan 24
I recently met with Johanna for help with my rambunctious teenager, Roger. We worked on coming when called, leash walking, and staying calm around other dogs when on leash. After two sessions, Roger made huge improvements, and he continues to improve as we practice on our own. Johanna really understands dogs and is very good at communicating with people. She knows how to make dog training fun. I've worked with other trainers, and Johanna is by far the best.
Wendy Nighswonger
Wendy Nighswonger
18:47 08 Jul 23
I have known Johanna for 13 years. She has helped me with several dogs, but she recently helped me train my new black lab puppy, Raven. I have moved to another state so all of my training with Raven was done online via Zoom. I believe that the one-on-one training I received through Zoom was more personalized and thorough, especially with the way Johanna placed every ounce of training and recommendation on a board through an app that I can refer back when I need. Johanna is very intuitive and knew when stress was on overload for me, therefore tailoring my training for that day around making Raven feel good while simultaneously taking my stress load down. Johanna has years of experience and while her knowledge is a gold mine, it is her gentle patience and love for her clients that make this training so perfect. I would hire her again and again. She is a true canine whisperer. Thank you Four Legged Scholars and thank you Johanna!Wendy N. ~ Oregon
Christina Richards
Christina Richards
18:13 10 Feb 23
Johanna at Four Legged Scholars is great. She tailored my program to fit my needs and was easy to work with. My puppy responded very well to what she taught us together over Zoom. She's patient and understanding. We're still utilizing the things we learned and he's a well-behaved puppy. Thank you!
Karyl Bennion
Karyl Bennion
19:49 05 Feb 23
I adopted Frida as a companion that I could travel, walk and hike with. She loves to hike and walk but pulled on the leash and jumped at distractions. I learned how to be calm and talk in a non threatening way to her. She responds to this much better than yelling at her. The click and treat method that I learned works so well in getting her attention as well as the "target" training. Frida has improved greatly with these methods. I will continue the knowledge I have learned with her. I did the live on-line training and it was very successful. I am so happy we signed up.
Rachel Giddings
Rachel Giddings
02:57 12 Dec 22
My dog was abused in his previous home and has always been afraid of strangers. I wanted to train him and help him to be more confident, but I didn't know how to do that if he was afraid of his trainer.Doing online training with Joanna was perfect for both of us! Joanna helped me learn how to read my dog and understand his triggers. We then worked together on BAT training, which taught him self-soothing behaviors and showed him how to confidently and safely handle difficult situations. I never thought I would have fun doing homework with my dog, but he and I benefited from it tremendously. Working with Joanna via Zoom was perfect for my dog and me.
Shawn McMillen
Shawn McMillen
02:09 24 Oct 22
My 2 year old doodle was struggling with people walking by the house, barking incessantly, tugging on walks, improving recall when off leash and , for me, how to be a better more engaging human for my buddy. The personalized, online sessions exceeded all my expectations. The review of video homework sessions was awesome. We saw improvement in each of the priority areas and I developed real, tangible, lasting skills/tools to be a better pet person. Thanks Johanna!
Courtney Daniels
Courtney Daniels
19:59 12 Sep 22
12 years ago I got a puppy and quickly realized I was in over my head. I wanted to have a good, well trained dog, but I was overwhelmed by methods and my puppies behavior.I joined the four legged scholars puppy training with my little 4 month old puppy Bowie, and saw immediate understanding with the clicker work. It gave us this incredibly ability to communicate and she excelled.We went on to take several courses that established general obedience, helped me turn a STRONG leash puller into a loose leash master (I took that course twice because it was a huge issue for us and I NEEDED help and reassurance from Johanna that I could do it) as well as skill class, that helped solidify a beautiful relationship between us. Learning clicker shaping allowed me to confidently teach complex and unique commands on my own as well, like waving hello and closing kitchen cabinets.My Bowie has climbed to the top of mountains for me staying right by my side never pulling on her leash. I've targeted her off trails to protect her from startling a mama moose and her baby. She's loved on my kids without jumping on them and knocking them over. She's allowed the neighbor girl who has always had a fear of dogs to walk her without pulling at whatever pace she was comfortable with. She shows off with all her fun little tricks Johanna gave me the tools to train my dog into an amazing companion.I feel so lucky to have found your training program and to have the relationship I do with my Bowie girl. These courses have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of families and their pups, thank you for that gift.
Megan Pond-Maxwell
Megan Pond-Maxwell
16:02 18 May 22
I am so grateful to have found Johanna. She was with us every step of the way as we tackled separation anxiety training and reactivity training with Daisy, my Mini Australian Shepherd. As a first time dog owner, I felt at a loss about how to manage my very vocal, scared, stressed, yet loveable dog. She had all of the typical puppy behavior, such as jumping, nipping/biting, leash pulling, as well as barking. On top of that, she was also not able to be alone without feeling terrified, as well as vocally and behaviorally reactive to other dogs, adults, and kids. I felt completely overwhelmed and Johanna created programs that felt manageable and doable. Each training session, I felt understood and empowered working with Johanna. Over the course of our programs, I felt that we accomplished the steps of the training process, strengthened the dog-human relationship, and increased my own awareness of my dog's emotional cues so that I could better work with her. My dog can now be on her own feeling relaxed and playful, her problematic puppy behaviors have significantly improved, she can walk on her leash loosely, listen to commands, and she can better tolerate other adults, dogs, and children as compared to where we first started. Our online experience was very positive. I look forward to continually implementing the tools and skills we have learned along the way to move forward in a positive direction that strengthens our human-animal bond and reduces distressing behaviors and emotional stress and overwhelm. Thank you Four Legged Scholars! I highly, highly recommend working with Johanna.
Emily Harward
Emily Harward
03:36 24 Apr 22
Our rescue dog is sweet and playful with us, but her behavior around other dogs and people could be unpredictable. She would act aggressively around adults (lunging and barking), and would sometimes be aggressive toward other dogs. We chose to do online training with Johanna. I was skeptical that online training would work, but it ended up being very effective. Johanna taught me the skills I needed to train my dog, and provided resources that I could use throughout the week as I worked on the assigned tasks. I was also able to send her videos of me working with my dog, so she could provide feedback and help me improve. Johanna personalized the program and made changes as needed to ensure that I could meet my goals. Since working with Four Legged Scholars, neighbors have commented on how much better behaved my dog is, and I don't have to worry about her lunging and barking at people or other dogs when we are out for a walk anymore. We still have a lot of work to do with our dog, and I feel like doing the personalized online sessions with Johanna has given me the knowledge, and resources to continue training my dog.
Angel Lanoy
Angel Lanoy
15:22 16 Jun 21
We have a large family, including three big dogs. So when our biggest dog Obi, the Rottweiler, started showing aggression we panicked. The vet suggested we put him down after an experience in the office. He then said we could also try training and gave us Johanna's business card. Just a phone call with her made us feel like there was hope. We signed up to do the online sessions with FourLeggedScholars. The process from the first contact to the last was well oiled and very helpful. Obi gets to stay with our family now and we feel like meting with her has given us the guidance and knowledge we need to keep our family, friends and him safe. I was a tad worried about doing the training online, but it really worked out great and we were able to fit such a big task into our busy schedules. I feel like she set us up for success from the very beginning. Thank you.
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