Sounds that Scare Dogs | Fireworks and Dogs Tips
Boy, can I relate to the stress and anxiety you are going through during the summer months if your dogs is afraid of noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms. I too lived it for many years with my golden retriever, Theo. I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t easy.
My current dog, Dexter, well, he could care less. Not out of sheer luck, but because I played an incredibly active role in teaching him that noises meant good things. If your dog is afraid of loud noises or if he has other dog anxieties, please check out this article to keep your dog happy around loud noises.
First things first. If you are reading this article because firework season is quickly approaching or even here, today will be about management. After thunderstorm season and firework season is over, check out this article to learn about slowly desensitizing your dog to noises so next year will be better.
I understand that a lot of my readers are reading this blog post because fireworks are about to start and you are desperate to find a solution for your fearful dog. Unfortunately, your timing is a bit off. Now is a time of management and trying to ease as much stress as possible. Even publications want me to write about this topic during season vs. off-season. The off-season is the time to work on training. But, back to today.
I can’t remember where I first read it, but it is said that more pets go missing during the 4th and 5th of July than at any other time. I’m guessing this is because of a few things. One, dogs are in panic mode and all they can think of is an escape. No, they don’t realize running out of their yard isn’t going to make the noise stop. But then again, they are not in their right mind when they are in extreme distress. Second, I think a lot of backyard parties and gatherings are happening and people leave gates open, dogs slip out doors, etc.
Please ensure your dog’s identification is up to date, including his microchip contact. Double-check his collar and harness to ensure they are fitted properly. Also make sure you have a recent photograph of your dog, preferably digital.
Fireworks and Dogs Tips
If your dog is afraid of fireworks or loud noises, please don’t leave him alone. Please don’t leave him alone. Please don’t leave him in a kennel. Please don’t leave him in a kennel. Do you get the point? Honestly, if your dog has this type of anxiety I strongly believe he should be your top priority, not going out of town for the weekend to socialize. Not going out of town for the weekend to socialize. Just sayin’.
Do whatever you can to keep your days and evenings free as much as you can the WEEK of the 4th of July. I realize you might not be able to take the entire week off, but maybe you don’t have to go to the grocery store that week or you can be home while your spouse or teenager goes to the store for you. Why a week? Because neighbors can be very inconsiderate.
Getting to Know Your Neighbors
Now is not the time to be shy. The week before the Fourth, talk with your neighbors about your dog’s anxiety. You don’t have to ask them not to engage in fireworks, but maybe you can have a discussion on when they are going to do them. I remember with Theo, trying to take him outside to pee, and sure enough, some kid down the street would start a popper.
Get Out of Town
Do you have any family who live in the country you can retreat to? Maybe you and your dog can go on a mini-vacation to a place that does not allow fireworks or is isolated. It’s most definitely worth investigating.
Fireworks and Dogs: What to Do
Okay, now you have to figure out what you can do during the 4th of July and 5th of July. If your dog is afraid of fireworks, it is going to be tough. But hang in there, try not to get stressed, and certainly don’t get angry or frustrated with your dog. It’s NOT in their control. They cannot stop their behavior, which is ruled by their emotions.
Potty your dog on his leash secured to a properly fitted harness that he cannot escape. Even if you have a fenced-in yard, I would highly recommend leashing for potty during this time. A dog can get spooked very easily, especially if he’s already on edge. Potty your dog before dusk. You want to get his business done before any fireworks start.
Close up your home. Shut your windows, doors and shades. Turn on any device you have that can play calming music. If you have box fans, turn them on. You want to try to buffer any outside noise that you can.
Place your dog’s calming jacket or tight-fitted T-shirt or another type of clothing on. When Theo was with me, I had a man’s T-shirt, and I would tie a knot up on the top. Two theories are at play as to why this helps with (not cures) anxiety. One, it’s calming like a baby’s swaddle hitting specific calming pressure points on the dog. Two, it’s a distraction so your dog starts to pay more attention to his body rather than his outside environment.
Mutt Muffs or dog ear muffs are made to reduce noise for dogs. They are designed specifically with a dog’s head in mind and fit properly.
Natural oral calming aids for dogs’ anxiety can come in various forms such as flower essences for dogs, homeopathic remedies, CBD oil, or herbs. I highly recommend speaking with your holistic veterinarian prior to administering, with the exception of flower essences.
Flower essences are safe and do not react badly to any medications or herbs. You can also use flower essences in conjunction with other remedies and dose every twenty minutes during a traumatic event, if there are no other ingredients and the carrier is either water or distilled vinegar.
Outer scents can also be helpful. Do note that essential oils can be a high-quality oil or one with iffy standards. A little goes a long way. One or two drops is typically all that is needed. Essential oils are not my personal go-to, with the exception of Pet Remedy spray. If you are looking for a straight essential oil, I would suggest lavender.
Feed your dog a high-quality species-appropriate diet. Dogs that are high with anxiety are said to have a Shen disturbance. The Heart Shen allows the dog to be calm and relaxed, something an anxious dog cannot easily do. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory, treatment would include nourishing, or calming the Shen, to aid in their ability to relax and cope. A cooling diet that contains duck, rabbit, or cod can be very helpful. A neutral diet such as beef or pork will also work. Some other foods that help balance your dog’s nervous energy include: sardines, sweet potatoes, chicken eggs, seaweed, kelp, apples, and spinach.
Medications may or may not be recommended. When you speak with your dog’s holistic vet, do ensure the medication does not just leave your dog immobile. Some medications used for fear of fireworks only make the dog immobile, but his mind is still going 100 miles an hour. This will actually make his anxiety worse over time. Instead, you would want a medication that is going to make him mentally feel better during the event.
Finally, be there for your dog. No, you are not going to reward his fearful behavior. Think about it. If you and I were hiding out in a bunker with the world crashing down on us, and I told you in a soothing voice, “You’ll be okay,” would you be more scared? Maybe you just might feel a little better that I’m acknowledging you and there for you.
Finally, finally. Do seek help from a professional dog behavior counselor who can guide you and your dog to a better fourth next year.
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