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Diwali Tips for Dog and Cat Parents and why YOU should ROOT for CRACKER FREE DIWALI

With the build up to Diwali celebrations, firecrackers are every where but loud noises and unpleasant sounds of crackers may leave your pet dog all jittery, wanting to escape the boisterous situation. Dogs with no associated past trauma to loud sounds too fall prey to anxiety and fearful response such as howling, barking, shivering and extreme salivation. Often behavioural issues will stem from fright and involve either running away to a safe haven or destructive behaviors such as chewing/digging to vent feelings of fear. Surely dog parents would want to deal with the situation before it worsens and behavioural issues persist taking an ugly turn.

Yellow puppy labrador retriever hiding under a bed


While these tips may ease the canine, The focus will lay on blocking the cause of anxiety and creating a comfortable environment for the pet.

  1. Offer a safe place away from the noisy atmosphere where the pet can rest. To select a safe hideout simply observe where the pet is headed on exposure to jarring noise. The frightened pooch may run to a certain corner of the house or perhaps underneath your bed. Ensure a free access to the respective spot. The chosen spot can be turned into something more likeable if you provide your pet at that place with its favorite food. Always allow a free passage to and fro the chosen location. Also curtains can be kept drawn to avoid any provocation due to external stimulus.
  2. Wanting to escape may cause the pet to run outdoors through an open door or window. To prevent this from occurring keep all doors locked and windows shut. This would help in another way by reducing the level of sound from letting off crackers.
  3. Just when the dog begins to display fear & its associated signs try to distract your furry baby towards a fun activity. You can play with it using a ball inside the house. Use the reward route to keep it engaged in the game. Take note that this method will work just when the dog has started to show some anxiety. Sometimes after a while the dog may start to feel overly frightened due to unpleasant sounds of crackers or thunder and the fun activity ceases to captivate its attention. In this scenario it is best to stop the game/course of action as continuing with it may only worsen the canine’s fearful response.
  4. On day of Diwali take the dog out for a good walk in the morning with enough opportunities for it to interact with nature. The idea is to avoid evening time when fire crackers are exploded.
  5. Adopt the Desensitization technique. This involves modifying and reducing fearful responses/phobias through conditioning the dogs to act in more confident & non-fearful ways to unpleasant sounds or other stimulus previously known to induce stress.
Diwali tips 2

Always allow a free passage to and fro the chosen location. Also curtains can be kept drawn to avoid any provocation due to external stimulus. Image:

This approach will require you to record a fire cracker sound and thereafter playing the tape at a very low volume in front of the dog. The low intensity will prevent the formation of fear in the pooch. Simultaneously feed the dog with its favorite pet food or treat so that it can associate the noise to something positive occurring with it. You can also play a fun game that the pet enjoys; this will help in linking the sound with a rewarding experience.

The next time you play the tape, increase the volume. Couple it with feeding the pet or playing some game to boost positivity around the session.

With each session spread over weeks increase the volume of the tape. In case the pet exhibits anxiety at any succeeding session, it is best to stop the exercise.

You can however resume the next session by playing the sound at a lower volume that doesn’t affect the pet negatively inducing fear. Space the sessions accordingly, progressing gradually to the next level.

  1. You can consult the vet in case you wish to provide the dog with some medication to calm & reduce its anxiety. You must never give the dog human medicines. Always speak to the veterinarian regarding the suitable medicine to be administered.
  2. In some extreme cases you may have to take help from an animal behaviorist to help rid the animal of a certain phobia.

Below are a few Don’ts you must remember while treating the canine’s fear.

Don’t reward the dog or pat it when it is overly fearful. Feeding it with a tasty bone/treat or gently stroking it may further strengthen the fearful response as your puppy/dog may deduce it to be a reward for its anxiety. It is best to assume a neutral stance when the pet acts frightened.

Don’t punish the dog when it shows fear caused by unpleasant sounds.

Don’t put the dog in a crate even if it shows a destructive behavior. It will continue to be terrified and may injure itself badly trying to escape the crate.

Don’t push the dog to be present close to the unpleasant sounds that elicit a fearful response. The sight of people bursting crackers can instill tremendous fright as it may begin to associate those people or children with loud noises. The dog begins to link other things around with the unlikable sounds. Never force it to stay close to any of these things as it may only turn the dog aggressive wanting to evade the situation.

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With over 15 years of experience in dealing with pets, the PetsWorld Team is now a constant guide for thousands of pet owners in India. Their passion for improving the lives of pets can be seen in their featured blog posts dedicated to pet care.

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