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There are a few holidays throughout the year where we, for fun, blow stuff up. Yep, I’m talking about fireworks. Each New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July (and a few other holidays if you have overzealous neighbors like I do) I find my normally calm dog under my feet, trembling, sometimes almost panicked, as the barrage of explosions go on for hours.
We’re so accustomed to these holiday celebrations that the constant bangs and pops are fun (or, maybe a mild annoyance) for the most of us. But, imagine what your dog must be thinking! While I do swear that mine is the smartest dog on the planet, (heh, don’t we all make that claim?) I can’t very well explain that this is a holiday and we’re celebrating. So, instead I use these tips from CollarGirl.com (now bigdogboutique.com) to calm my dog that’s afraid of fireworks.
Is Your Dog Afraid of Fireworks?
Short term Quick Fixes:
Play! Depending on your dog’s level of anxiety (pacing vs. curled up trembling) simply distracting him may be the best course of action.
Play, sing songs, exercise the dog as much as you can to try and wear it out. Help your dog associate thunder with a fabulous playtime!
Crate your dog or move their bedding into a enclosed space like a closet. A dog who feels “safe” will be less anxious, and a “den” is the instinctual place for a dog to feel safe. It may help to cover your dog’s crate with a blanket or sheet to create a den feeling.
Create as much white noise as you can. Fans, TV’s, radios, etc. Try to drown out the majority of the sound.
Find a T-shirt that fits the dogs chest tightly and put it on them. No one knows why this helps, but many owners swear this makes a difference.
Over the counter sedatives (Like rescue remedy) or veterinary prescriptions like Ace or Valium are a good short term treatment- although not avaliable in an emergency. If your dog is severely anxious, try to keep a stash on hand.
Short term and long term, one of the most important things for an owner to do is not to coddle the dog. Cooing and petting are both”rewarding” actions for a dog- they are used as rewards in training- so what are you training your dog to do when you respond to his anxiety with petting and cooing?
Rather than babying your scared dog, try:
Singing a silly song
Taking the time to run the dog through his or her tricks.
Yawning repeatedly (really). make big, loud, exaggerated yawns- your dog will see your relaxation and respond.
Read the rest of CollarGirl’s tips here. And, is your dog afraid of fireworks? What do you do to calm him? We’d love to hear your stories and tips in the comments below.