maltese mix hiding

Noise-phobic dogs will be worse if you punish or threaten them – they’ll think the threat is real.

It’s fireworks season and that can mean some very nervous, stressed-out dogs.  And it’s certainly natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises, let alone big flashes of light.  If your dog is freaked by thunder and/or fireworks, here are some things you can do.

First, don’t punish the frightened dog

Sure, your pup might run all around like a maniac and even tear up papers, clothes and more. He may pee in the house.  But punishing him reinforces his sense that there IS something to be very afraid of…

The 5 Ds:

  • Distract
  • Defuse
  • Drug
  • Desensitize
  • Drown out the sounds

Distract your dog by playing, training or snuggling.  He may prefer a safe hideout like his bed; if so, stay close by.

You can defuse his anxiety by remaining calm yourself — lead by example. Give him lots of love and reassurance – but don’t baby! That will teach him to play up the anxiety to get positive attention.

Drugs? Your vet might prescribe a mild tranquillizer or you could try melatonin.  An article in The Whole Dog Journal reports that one of the most effective treatments for thunderstorm phobia is melatonin, an over-the-counter hormone used by humans to treat insomnia.

Desensitize by playing loud noises, increasing the sound gradually depending on how well your dog is tolerating it – while you play with him happily.

Drown out the disturbing sounds with ‘white noise’ – TV static will do.  Close your windows and drapes. Or play your favourite TV show or radio station louder than normal and keep your dog close.

Best idea? Keep your dog away from the fireworks

You can’t control thunderstorms but you CAN remove your dog from fireworks.  Dogs may run away during storms and fireworks displays – dashing out in to the street or becoming thoroughly lost in their fear. Be sure your dog is well identified, with a name tag on his collar and microchipping.

Thundershirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs if they are anxious, fearful or over-excited.

For thunder, many owners rave about the Thunder Shirt – a tight little jacket that holds your dog closely, reducing anxiety. You can get Thunder Shirt in all sizes at

Finally, a little advice to the dog mom or dog dad: exercise for you and the dog before the drama is always a good idea :)

You can make your own Keep Calm and…. poster at