Week 17 ask Leighton LIVE Show that goes into more depth…
Independence Day might be a fun way to celebrate our Patriotism, but for some dogs it can be one of the most stressful days of the year.
This article will focus on the affects of fireworks on a dogs behavior, but the same affect can occur with thunder, or any other loud noises. More dogs exhibit anxiety on the 4th of July, than any other day of the year because of noise from fireworks. Nervousness to loud noises is a perfectly normal reaction, but of course as pet-parents we hate to see our fur-kids in distress.
It may seem obvious, but here are some of the symptoms you should look at for with your pup.
Symptoms of nervousness/anxiety
- Teeth Chattering
Products of nervousness/anxiety
Dogs react to stressfull situations in one of three ways:
- Fight-becoming reactive or aggressive to either you, other people, or other pets.
- Flight-attempting to hide itself or go to a closed, quiet environment to try to escape from a fearful situation.
- Freeze-seizing up, becoming stiff, or unresponsive.
Now that you know what to look for when your dog is nervous, here is how you can help your pups anxiety.
Confidence trumps anxiety
When dogs are nervous they typically turn to their owner for comfort. Playing into their fear or feeding off their anxiety affirms to your dog that there is something to be afraid of. Suppressing anxiety works better by calming your dog through confidence, basic obedience training, and control.
- Re-focus your dog with his favorite food, toy, or treat. Otherwise known as “channeling”, this is a great way to redirect their nervous energy (or distracting them) into something positive that they enjoy.
- Exercise. July is the perfect time of year for summertime activities such a swimming. If your dog uses his energy to play in the water, the chances of him being completely tuned in and nervous about the noise of fireworks are less likely.
NOTE: ESPECIALLY IN SEVERE HEAT CONDITIONS, be extremely cautious of the duration of time your dog plays outside! Summer heat puts your dog at risk for overexertion and can potentially cause serious medical emergencies.
TEST: Place your palm on the ground. If you cannot keep it there, then your dog cannot walk there.
Crate Training and Thundershirts
Crating is the surest way to make your dog feel safe and secure, as long as he is already crate-trained. Do not attempt to crate train your pup right before the 4th. This kind of work should be done weeks in advance in order for your dog to benefit from it. Do not expect your dog to train efficiently when he is frightened.
Thundershirts and other variations typically wrap around the dog’s body and give them the sensation of being held or hugged. Like small children, this is comforting and calming to dogs.
- Ideally, behavior should be trained, not medicated. However, in some circumstances, medication MAY BE AN OPTION. If your dog shows severe and unmanageable signs of anxiety from firework noise, medication might be the right choice for you.
- Please consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any meds.
- ALWAYS look up the dosage appropriate for your dog. Some dogs have a strong resistance, some dogs do not. Make sure you get the correct dosage for your dog and talk to your vet before putting your dog on any medication.
- Start with a low dosage, and increase ONLY IF NEEDED.
NOTE: BE EXTRA CAREFUL IF YOUR DOG IS ALREADY ON MEDICATION. SOME MEDICATIONS DO NOT INTERRACT WELL WITH OTHERS . NOT EVERY MEDICATION WORKS ON ALL DOGS. ONLY GIVE MEIDCATION WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Dogs are more likely to escape from the yard or house on July 3/4th than any other day of the year! Nervousness triggers an inclination to run away, and dogs may attempt to leave their home in order to find peace, quiet, and safety from fireworks.
- Always microchip your dog! If your dog does get out, there is a better chance of him getting back home to you if he has a registered microchip. Keep the microchip information up to date to ensure that your dog is able to find its way home again after escaping.
- Consider staying at home for 4th of July. By far this is the best way to ensure that your dog is comfortable and secure.
- If you are unable to stay at home, make sure your pup is kept in a place they cannot break out of. Dogs have been known to chew through walls in order to escape, so this would be a great time to use your crate.
Mask the sound
Otherwise known as “masking.” Music, white noise, or simply stifling the noise of fireworks will serve as an alternative stimulation for your dog to focus on rather than the loud sounds of fireworks.
In fact, it is the percussion of the fireworks, that shake the house and scare your dog the most, rather than the loud pop of the firework noise.
- Ideally you want your masking noise to be music with a wide range of pitch frequency. We want the tone of music to variate from high to low tones rather than a soundtrack of ocean sounds or other monotonous noises.
- Closing curtains, turning off lights, or covering the dog’s crate will help block out the sounds of fireworks and normalize the dog’s environment for him to feel more secure.
NOTE: Although it might be comforting to your pet to cuddle into your lap while it is feeling scared or insecure, be careful of not feeding into their fear. We want to comfort our pets, not confirm their fears!
The 4th of July should be fun for everyone- even your dog!
Although Independence Day is a red flag for dog safety, there are plenty of measures we can take as owners to ensure that our dogs have a safe and happy holiday.
- Give them the benefit of consistent training and exercise
- Stay confident and comforting
- Provide a safe place for them to retreat for the night
- Making sure they are surrounded by their absolute favorite things