Here are 5 ideas for calming your stressed out dog. More dogs are lost as runaways on the 4th of July than any other holiday! Nobody wants to see their dog freak out with fear and by planning ahead you can cure or minimize their suffering... Remember to begin these steps AHEAD of a trigger, such as the fourth of July, or other times when anxiety is a problem. DO NOT administer drug-type "help" during an anxiety attack and expect quick results. If you are reading this ON July 4th and your dog is already upset, then save these ideas for NEXT YEAR or practice in advance for the next situation.************************************************************************ 5 IDEAS..... 1) Exercise away from the fire crackers, such as out in the wilderness where they are not allowed, or travel to Canada, or to a city with an ordinance which forbids them. Of course, this is hard to predict because of those people who set off fire crackers in spite of laws. Also, they are often blasting all day AND at night, so it's hard to avoid the noise unless you stay where it's "safe" for hours and hours yourself. I've met people who, literally, travel to Canada over the 4th for a long weekend or go camping as far from civilization as possible! Otherwise, it's hard to predict what will be audible to Fido. Still, "getting away" is sometimes possible, if you plan ahead.
2) Remain Calm Yourself.Studies have shown that when we repeat the words "It's ok" over and over to a dog, they are MORE anxious. What they hear is "I'm worried too and you should be also!" Instead of saying "It's ok, it's ok, it's ok" talk in a normal tone about happy subjects. Tell you're dog that she is brave and need not be worried about booms and bangs because they don't scare YOU. and YOU will protect her so she can relax. Have a strong sounding phrase like "I've got you" and be calm and confident when you say it. When there is a loud bang, act happy-- "Oh may that was a loud one, huh Snuffy?" or "Whoowee, that was a BIG one, huh?! Yippie! " If you act upset and scared, your dog feels your emotions and feeds off that "vibe". Once I had a dog boarding that was anxious from an outside noise. Every time the noise happened I acted all happy and laughed and said things like "Ohh, that was a GOOD noise!" and "Wow, that one surprised me too. Aren't I silly? hahaha!" and pretty soon the dog was waging his tail and when a noise happened, he looked at me and danced around happily. I was surprised how well it worked myself!!
3) A special chew or long lasting bone is fun instead of scary.If your dog isn't too frightened to eat, have a special yummy treat, something that lasts for hours that he can chew on instead of anticipate fear. A puzzle toy is helpful, like a kong with frozen peanut butter and some kibble inside. Let him work on this special treat in a bathroom with the lights out. If your dog is crate trained, he should be crated in a cool, dark place, with few if any windows. Cover the windows with heavy curtains if possible OR put a cover over the crate. See idea #4.
4) White Noise in a Secure Room and or Crate.If your dog is Crate Trained, you are one step ahead. If not, you can train this, but it must be done when there is NO extra stresser causing anxiety. Don't crate train ON the fourth of July!!! The same goes for a Thundershirt. This product can be purchased online or at places like PetCo. They must be used before there is any stress as there is a training process involved and it's better to put them on BEFORE there are any Rockets Red Glare. Even if it's a warm day, the Thundershirt is a great comfort for a dog who has worn it beforehand and learned that the shirt feels good.
If your dog is afraid of thunder, we don't get much around here, but if they run to the bathroom and hide near the plumbing, this is a "thing" dogs do, so let him stay there. If he runs under the bed, let him. He'll come out when he feels it's safe and if being under the bed helps him, what's the harm. A crate is better, of course, but use what you can, if your dog is not crate trained.
White noise, such as a radio tuned to a station YOU ENJOY that is turned up to muffle the outside noises, in a cool, dark or subdued lit room helps greatly. The reason the radio should be on a station with music YOU enjoy is because, this is also the music your dog responds to as being a comfort. (yes, studies have been done on this also!) a TV is ok sound also, but make sure it's a program that is not going to make them MORE anxious, like a war movie with a lot of bombs going off!!
5) Calming Pet "Treats" or CDB oils or Esental Oil Steamers and Vet Prescribed Drugs. CDB oils are the Hot New Thing but calming treats, such as the brand Pet Naturals, can be bought online or at local pet stores. (Patricia's Pet Store in PA and ....in Sequim) They are safe but come in different sizes so get the one that fits the weight of your dog, then you MUST practice what dose is going to work for your actual dog. So, on a day when there are no stress issues, give your dog the recommended dose, see how he does and give ONE more, if you think he's not sleepy enough. If you do NOT follow this suggestion and wait to give the treats when she is already stressed from bangs and booms, then you will get little or no reaction from the drugs, which causes most people to over-proscribe and THAT can be dangerous. Be safe and test ahead of time, then give the calming treats when you expect some fireworks issues, but BEFORE your dog is upset. If you see your vet for drugs to help your dog through this season of crashes and bangs, then follow their directions TO THE LETTER. These stronger drugs should NOT be guessed at or lightly given or over applied. It could be the best solution, however, for a very stressed pet.
There are many natural, calming Essential Oil diffusers which help you AND your dog have a positive outlook, which can be a good thing on the Fourth of July--- or any day!