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The Fourth of July is fast approaching and with it, the peak of summertime fun chock-full of picnics, barbeques, parades, ice cream, and of course, fireworks.  It’s usually a really exciting day for people of all ages!  It’s also a crazy busy day for dog shelters, since more dogs run away on this holiday than any other day of the year.  The reason is simple, most dogs cannot stand the sound of fireworks and it can make them go a little nuts.

Dog for FireworksFight or Flight

We all know that dogs have sensitive ears and can hear much more than humans.  Noise phobias are a valid issue with sounds such as thunder and fireworks, except thunder usually comes with other warnings (wind, lightning, changes in barometric pressure) and is less unpredictable than fireworks.  When your pooch hears one of these loud sounds, it can easily evoke a “fight or flight” response and causes Fido to frazzle.

If your dog is stressed out, it’s usually pretty easy to determine their signs of unrest.  He/she may start pacing the floor, panting, drooling excessively, trembling, yawning frequently, show dilated pupils, or may try to hide.  While it is important to acknowledge your dog’s sensitivity, it is equally important not to excessively soothe them or you risk reinforcing their behavior.  Ideally, your dog could be trained to modify their nature and not be so reactive toward booms and bangs, but without time on our side and no guarantee it will work, we have some other suggestions.

Remedies

First and foremost, if your dog is scared of loud noises, DO NOT take them to a fireworks display.  You may not be able to avoid noisy neighbors, though, so leaving your dog home alone is not recommended. If you cannot be with your pet, determine if a relative or friend can dog-sit for you, since pups can get rather destructive when they are stressed out.  Another concern is if your pet is not micro chipped, please make sure he/she has a collar with identification tags and cannot easily escape off leashes/from yards.

A few other suggestions from some well-respected canine websites are:

  • Take your dog for a long walk and exercise them well during the day, so they are tired and worn out prior to the booming festivities
  • Put your pooch in a crate, travel kennel, or create a safe and quiet place for your dog to hide out
  • Employ the use of white noise for distraction
  • Give your pup it’s favorite toy or a chew treat to keep them occupied
  • Provide plenty of fresh water, as dogs tend to drink more when they are nervous
  • Place a couple drops of a soothing scented oil, such as lavender, on bedding
  • Massage techniques can be used to calm your canine
  • ThunderShirts can be used if your dog is familiar with this practice (introducing something new during a time of heightened stress is not usually recommended)
  • Let your dog wear one of your t-shirts that has not been washed recently
  • Mutt Muffs are hearing protection earmuffs for your pup
  • Relax – dogs often know how you feel before you do and any anxiety you have will amplify theirs
  • Talk to your dog to reassure them that they are okay and that you are near

Let freedom ring! (Only for the people, please)

In a perfect world, our dogs would not panic at loud noises, or we would have tried and true techniques to help them conquer their fears. Our world is by far perfect, so thank goodness for good pet owners.  I was laughing last night thinking about this article, as my Chihuahua ran into the utility room where I was folding laundry.  The neighbors had just fired up their lawnmower and she was in a state of terror.  I made her a make-shift bed next to me on the floor out of some old blankets.  Sometimes our scared pups just need to bury their head, cover their ears, and know we’re near.  Best of luck with your pets this noisy holiday! Kasmann Insurance wishes you all a safe and Happy 4th of July!