Helping Your Dog Through Independence Day
For Americans, Independence Day is a joyous time spent with family and friends, eating good food and, of course, watching fireworks light up the sky. For our dogs, on the other hand, it can be a confusing and stressful time of the year. Unfortunately, many are lost because they escape from home while trying to flee the loud sounds. If your dog has a phobia for fireworks, follow these tips to help get them through this Independence Day.
Keeping a dog on low activity means they will have plenty of pent up energy to use up by the firework showtime. What may have been mild anxious symptoms can instead become more severe behavior, and in some cases destructive should a dog try to claw and bite their way to escape. Try taking them out for some vigorous exercise such as hiking or swimming. You’ll know they’ve had a good day once they plop down to sleep the moment they get home! If you’re lucky, they may even be too tired to care about outside festivities. Suppose you work during the day, consider taking them to their favorite doggy daycare for a day of fun activities and exercise.
Potty Before The Festivities
Your pup definitely won’t be able to concentrate on relieving themselves with explosions happening around them. Feed them dinner a little early and take them outside before it gets dark. You’ll also want to restrict water after their last potty break so they don’t have any accidents in the house.
Give Them a Safe Space
It goes without saying that you should keep all pets inside your home during Independence Day, and probably for a few days after in case anyone in your area prolongs their celebrations. Having them inside, however, is still not enough since they can hear the explosions and see them through the windows. Using your pup’s natural instinct to hide to your advantage, create a ‘safe space’ for them to run away to. This spot should be in a room farthest from outside noises and away from windows. Drown out any noise by turning on a fan, playing music or white noise, or turning on a tv. If they enjoy their crate or cage, place it in this room but do not close them inside or else they may feel trapped and hurt themselves in a panic. Place comfy bedding, water, and favorite toys in their safe space. When first introducing the safe space, make sure to spend some time with your dog in this room and use positive reinforcement in the form of toys or treats to help them understand it’s a happy, peaceful place.
Natural Calming Remedies
Many pet parents have found relief using a popular “swaddling” technique with products like Thundershirt and Anxiety Wrap. You can also try sound-dampening products like Mutt Muffs and Happy Hoodie if your dog is willing to wear them. Another natural way of calming your pet is to give them CBD, which is said to have benefits like treating anxiety, pain, loss of appetite, and more. Dog pheromone products like Adaptil will also positively affect their emotional state and behavior. Using any of these natural remedies in combination with their safe space is sure to ease your pooch!
Take a Trip
If firework celebrations aren’t your thing, consider leaving the loud part of town with your pup. A getaway with you and your best friend is certain to be a blast, and in this case out of sight is out of mind for your dog. In the event that you plan on partaking in the celebrations but you’re worried about leaving your anxious pooch home alone, then you can also consider having your pup stay at a doggy hotel. Many hotels have techniques and features to aid in keeping doggies calm and comfortable during loud events. With their expert care, you can relax and enjoy the festivities knowing that your beloved companion is safe and sound.
Counterconditioning is a method that involves repeatedly pairing a negative trigger with a positive one until your dog makes a positive association. Every time your pup hears a firework go off, immediately give them a treat right after. Eventually they will associate the sound of fireworks with receiving a treat, and may even be excited to hear one! You can start conditioning them early by using a recording.
Desensitization is a long term method that you’ll want to practice well before any holiday with fireworks. In this training method you’ll work on gradually reducing your dog’s negative reaction to fireworks. To do this, in short daily sessions play a recording of fireworks at a low volume. Give your pup positive reinforcement by playing with them or using obedience cues and rewarding them with treats. Slowly increase the volume when they are calm and relaxed, and keep up with positive reinforcement until they can stay calm at a loud volume. You’ll want to desensitize your pooch in each area of your home, as a coping skill learned in one room may possibly be forgotten in another. Using CBD or Dog Pheromone products can help them stay relaxed and concentrated during your training sessions.
This option is usually a last resort for dogs displaying severe anxiety that can’t be calmed with the previous methods. Sedative drugs could force dogs to sleep during the celebrations. Anti-anxiety medications can also help reduce their panic. Keep in mind that medicine needs to be absorbed into the body before the scary sounds start, usually at least an hour before you’d expect them to begin. Also, as with all medications, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your pup and look out for any unwanted side effects. Talk with your vet about what options may be best.
Prevent An Escape
Check that all possible escape exits are secure. Just in case, consider having your pet microchipped and double check that your contact information listed is up to date, as well as making sure they are wearing their ID tags. In the unfortunate event that you have a runaway, act fast and follow these tips to get them home safely.