1. Download this YouTube video or play it from this site (below) for your house speakers to practice playing fireworks. The louder you can play it the more realistic it will sound to your dog.
2. Have your leash ready and use only a flat collar, not a choke chain or a pinch collar.
3. Check yourself- Checking your own energy to make sure you are calm and collective as your dog will pick up on that. If you are calm, your dog is calm. If the fireworks already started and you are reading this after the fact your dog went into hiding, then remain calm and be aware how you approach your dog.
4. Que the music- This will be a lot easier if you have a remote or a second person able to turn off the firework sounds so you can remain calm and be near your dog instead of running around trying to turn off your laptop, stereo etc and trying to be your dogs mentor as it is getting nervous or freaking out. if your dog freaks out remain calm and stop the sounds and keep reading.
5. A very common mistake is giving your dog affection when it is nervous about any situation. Don't give your dog affection, it will make training more difficult. If your dog is shaking, IT'S OK! It's part of the dogs process to releasing his built up energy. Do not give into his emotion.
6. Get your dog focused on something else. Give him a focus point, a treat, a treadmill if you walk your dog on one, playing ball, his toy, etc. 60% of the dogs brain is controlled through the nose and 25% is controlled through his ears. Ears are also connected to the nerve system. So we have to get the brain switched from his ears to his nose. Get his mind off the sounds and get him focused on a treat or a toy, etc.
7. Once your dog is refocused then you can give your dog affection, treats and get your dog focused on you again and play time or happy time.
8. Begin the sounds again and try to repeat the above steps if your dog freaks out again.
9. Be happy and embrace the insecurity.
10. begin to play with your dog during the sounds once he is re-focused on you. Play with your dog and when you think your dog is focused on your, the ball the treat etc, turn the sounds back on and try to keep him focused. Be his mentor, his guide but remember you are trying to create a system so when the fireworks go off, you dog won't go into hiding he will look for you to help him with his nervousness instead to get back to his happy place. this way the dog is looking for your trust in this situation and does not have to feel alone and nervous.
11. DON'T GET AHEAD OF THE GAME! Don't begin to think now "Oh gees 4th of July is coming, I have to find a kennel, I have to find some pills to sedate him, etc." Your dog will pick up on this right away. and if you do this right and start way early, you won't need any of this.
12. Also one other trick if all else fails, or if you are not going to be home with your dog this 4th is to try and place your dog in a closed area like your garage. Make sure you dog proof it! Get a radio and play that music loud to drown out the fireworks. This could also help with your dog being nervous.
13. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! Repetition is KEY here folks! Continue this training every so often until the situation is controlled. Play the sound track at night and at day, Take your your dog to the local shooting range if you can and let him be next to you FAR away from the range but with in hearing distance. Repeat above steps to get him focused on you. Then you can move in closer on the next visit and then closer and closer until you are at the level of my below photos and comical videos of our last fishing trip of Maverick at my side while shooting the hand gun myself and then later having him off leash to run around free once he was again used to the sounds. You can see "Maverick" wagging his tail and enjoying the day with us. He has more fun then I did with the shotgun video. That sucker hurts!
Happy 4th of July to you all and good luck on your training.