Buck was one of our most devoted family dogs when our children were growing up. He was a “gentle giant”. Part Labrador and part German Shepherd; he was truly a champion of both breeds. Buck was tender and loving with all children; however he roared like a lion when he sensed someone was a threat to his family… The people that made up his tiny kingdom.
Buck was only afraid of one thing. He was terrified of fireworks. When the annual 4th of July celebrations commenced he simultaneously disappeared. We would find Buck cowering in a dark closet; seeking refuge from the terrible lights and sounds all around him.
Fireworks are very traumatic for most pets. It is not uncommon for an animal to “bolt” from the safety of his home and family and consequently become disoriented then lost. Here are a few signs to look for during these loud displays of Patriotism:
-pacing back and forth
-attempting to bolt out the door
-other nervous behaviors that are not normal for your furry friend
Desensitizing a pet to loud noises for periods of time as part of their training can be very effective. Try playing videos or recordings of fireworks while sitting quietly with your pet or playing a game they like such as fetch. Gradually increase the volume so as to desensitize them and get them used to it. If your pet starts to exhibit any of the signs above, turn the volume down to a level they can handle. When your pet becomes calm again; you can begin increasing the volume again. This process will show your pet that they have nothing to fear.
Below are TEN tips that you can do to help your pet avoid trauma during fireworks displays:
1. You must remain calm when handling a frightened animal. They can sense your emotions and tend to mimic your reaction. One of the most important things you can do for your pet is to act naturally yourself. Keeping the pets daily routine the same and letting them know that they are loved is vitally important.
2. Provide your pet with a quiet refuge where your animal can retreat when the festivities begin. A crate/kennel (especially if the animal is crate trained) or a closet can provide a sense of security and a safe haven from the loud noises.
3. Furnish your animals retreat with their favorite blanket or pillow. We have gone as far as to add our scent (perfume or body spray) to the item to help our pet feel more secure.
4. A special treat may also take the “edge” off. For example, vanilla ice cream can be soothing to their tummy as well as helpful to distract them. Toys that can be filled with peanut butter or other treats can give your pet a “purpose” or “goal”. This is also helpful to distract them from all of the commotion.
5. Classical music: I have often played quiet classical music to calm a new puppy at night or when I have to leave them alone for awhile. Providing ambient sounds for your pet to focus on can alleviate anxiety and help your traumatized pet feel soothed rather than frightened.
6. Us a Canine wrap or shirt specially designed to calm noise sensitive dogs. Weighted blankets work similarly in humans with anxiety. “Weighted blankets work by delivering a type of therapy called deep pressure touch stimulation. In one study, researchers found that 63 percent individuals who slept with a weighted blanket felt less anxious. Additionally, 78 percent of people preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality.” (SensaCalm staff). You can find wraps/shirts in pet stores as well as online. If you like a good “DIY” project check out this website for instructions on how to make your own pet thundershirt/wrap: https://www.k9ofmine.com/diy-thundershirt/
7. Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. If they have used up a lot of their physical energy that day they will be less inclined to pace and more inclined to rest.
8. Keep the windows and curtains closed during the fireworks. Curtains will dampen the sound.
9. Make sure your pet has a good fitting collar with proper I.D. on it as well as having them microchipped. Thus if they do become disoriented and run away it will be possible for them to be identified and returned to their furever family.
10. And the last and possibly most effective thing you can do is provide human companionship during the event. Let’s face it guys… Our pets love us and give us so much love in return. But sometimes they need us to just hold their paw and tell them that everything will be “OK”.
If our tips above do not work to help comfort your pet then it may be time to consult a Veterinarian. Make sure to contact them in plenty of time before the actual Holiday. Your Vet may be able to give you additional suggestions as well as prescribe a mild sedative to help your pet feel at ease during fireworks season.
Most of us dog lovers have now or sometime over the years owned or loved a “gentle giant”. Ours was called Buck. Calm and gentle with our kids, willing to do anything to protect us when needed, but terribly frightened of bursts of light and loud sounds that boom throughout the night.
We hope that y’all have a safe 4th of July and that our tips help to sooth your furbabies.
Happy 4th of July!
Cyndi Peterson – Middle Tennessee Pomskies
“Our Pomskies are family – Families are furever”