July the 4th is right around the corner and with it comes the celebrations and fireworks. While it is fun for most humans, it can be terrifying for most dogs and other animals. Anyone who has witnessed their favorite family pet suffer through the effects of the sounds of the firecrackers can empathize. There are a few things that can be done to lessen the stress. Take a look at these tips to help your dog’s fear of fireworks.
Don’t Leave Home
Rethink whether it is more important to attend a 4th of July event away from home rather than stay at home, especially if neighbors around you are setting off firecrackers. Animals may react in several different ways; some head for the bathtub; others crawl under the bed; and still others are so terrified that they may claw the door or walls in an effort to escape, not only injuring themselves but destroying your house. It helps to have a safe place for them to go, such as a dog crate. You may even want to cover the crate with a blanket to make a dark little den for them. And, whatever you do, don’t contribute to the problem by setting off fireworks!
Lessen the Stimuli
If you have decided to stay home, then, by all means, lessen the visual and auditory effects of the fireworks. This can be done by closing the curtains and keeping them in a crate. It can also be helpful to play calming CDs, such as “Through a Dog’s Ear” during that period of time, which can give them a positive association with the music.
It is very easy to become stressed when your dog becomes stressed. Be aware of your stress level and consciously bring it down. Dogs have an uncanny ability to pick up on our stress levels and if you become stressed, your dog’s stress is going to escalate. Holding and comforting your dog can help allay its fears.
This type of conditioning takes time, a LOT of time, so it must be started way before the actual fireworks. Using a CD that has the sounds of fireworks, very slowly, incrementally increase the volume, at the same time tagging the sound with whatever your dog’s favorite treat is, whether food or toy or game. If the dog becomes visibly stressed, back off on the volume and begin again slowly.
You can purchase various calming sprays such as ThunderEase or you can make your own with a few essential oils such as this DIY Calming Spray. Each oil has calming properties and combined will hopefully help their nervousness.
Small glass spray bottle
4 oz distilled water
6 drops of lavender oil
4 drops chamomile oil
4 drops sweet marjoram oil
Combine all ingredients in a small spray bottle. Shake until mixed well, and before each use.
Put a few sprays on a bandanna and tie loosely around the neck.
You can also spray on your pets bed or blanket to create a comfortable and calming place for them.
***NEVER spray directly onto your pet!
There are some medications that can help with dog anxiety but they only ease the symptoms. One such drug is Alprazolam or Xanax. Consult your veterinarian if medications become necessary. I prefer to leave medications as a last resort, but sometimes they truly are necessary for the dog’s well-being.
Last, but not least, make certain that your pet has and is wearing identification. More dogs run away on the 4th of July than any other holiday. In addition to being microchipped, a collar with your information is a necessity. Having more than one form of identification can help in getting your furbaby home again quickly.
The 4th of July fireworks can be a scary time for your pet. Using a common sense approach can ease their stress. Above all, realize that your furbaby is truly frightened. Even though their behavior such as pacing, panting, etc. may bother you, they cannot help themselves and should NEVER be scolded for it. Be patient and calm. Just as their stress can feed off of your stress, they can also pick up on your calmness and benefit from it. Be your dog’s safe place when the world gets scary!