The reason I make sure there’s a pane of glass (preferably a nice big TV screen) between me and fireworks is that I’ve been hit on three separate occassions by rockets that went rogue.
Happydoggy hasn’t been hit but he did get a scare and now he’s more firework-phobic than me.
During the Eid weekend a few weeks ago he was skipping along high on life the way only a dog can be, when the innocent looking house he’s passing decides to pick that moment to release a whole barrage of fireworks into the sky. Pink, Blue, Orange… the colours screeched, banged and thundered all around us.
He jumped and turned tail so hard that I was afraid that the force of the leash had cracked his neck.
I’ve read all the doggy books that advise to act normal and not comfort the dog too much as it’ll validate and reinforce his fear. It’s kind of hard to do that when the dog is so scared he’s clawing his way through concrete on his stomach in his desperate attempt to flee.
If I had dropped the lead, that’s it, I don’t think I would have seen him again as he was blind to everything apart from the need to get away from this spot.
We got home and it took a good hour for him to stop shaking and panting. Following the advice of the doggy books, I didn’t shower him with attention and pampering but of course cuddles are normal behaviour in my house so he got plenty of them plus the odd treat.
He calmed down eventually and I berated myself for not having anticipated fireworks on Eid (at 6:00pm though??).
The next day he bounded out of the house happily but came to an abrupt stop as heard or saw something that spooked him. Resisting his efforts to pull me back home, I rattled the treat tin I’d cleverly remembered to bring along.
Making a dog tough it out is easier said than done when you’re a softy. His tail firmly tucked between his legs, his whimpers and his cries made me concede defeat and he bounded home to the safety of the sofa.
In the past I don’t think his gaze had ever lifted higher than the garden wall from the top of which the neighbours cat likes to taunt him. Now he is hyper-aware of the sky and his deep chocolate eyes track every plane that passes overhead until the threat passes . Many times he will stand stock still looking up at the sky on high alert for the monster that’s about to swoop down and kill everyone.
He’ll allow me to lead him out of our compound, but often refuses to go further than a few yards outside. Car doors slamming, unexplained banging from someone’s house, workmen on a distant roof, all these things are now harbingers of evil and doom.
Some days are better than others and he’ll walk a normal round; two or three times he’s walked the circuit very relaxed and comfortable. Usually he’s nervous much of the way, looking around constantly, tail sometimes stiff and alert or down and unhappy. Not knowing what else to do, I let him get on with whatever mood he is in – I figure so long as I stay a constant it can’t be all bad.
He’s getting his exercise at doggy day care and on the treadmill at home (which he loves) and through playing chase at home with me (which he loves even more but the panting scares me to death… when I realise it’s me doing the panting. Less cakes, more exercise!).
He’s always happy and eager to leave the house for a walk, then he gets out there and remembers he’s supposed to be scared. Then he gets home and he’s an energetic happy bundle again.
Has your dog been spooked by fireworks? How did you help him get over his fear and enjoy walking again?