Firecrackers, even like the simple ones pictured, can cause anxiety in your dog.
Since I have two VERY sound sensitive dogs, I know what a pain the 4th of July can be for both human and dog alike. The lack of sleep, the pacing dogs and the ultimate fear that they might jump through the window in an attempt to get out of the house are all my daily companions in the days preceding, during and after the fourth.
Here are some tips for the 4th that I have found successful in dealing with my sound sensitive service dogs.
- Make sure your dog is as TIRED as possible. I usually don’t recommend my clients go to the dog park but I make an exception on the 4th. A tired dog is a calmer dog.
- Be prepared with medication ahead of time, a puppy doggie emergency room visit can run over $200. Call your vet today, tell them you have a sound sensitive dog and ask them for recommendations on medications to help ease your dogs anxiety. Its better to be prepared than sorry that you didn’t get to the vet in time. Remember to ask for several days worth of medication. We have neighbors who regularly set off fireworks on the 3rd, 4th and the 5th!
- Make sure your dogs tags and microchip information is up to date. If your dog does escape (most dogs are lost during the 4th than any other holiday) at least he will be able to come home safely if found by a stranger.
- Put your dog in a “safe” room with as few windows and doors as possible. Dogs have been known to try to escape by jumping through plate glass windows!
- Keep the windows and curtains drawn during the festivities. You want your dog to be as stimulus free as possible.
- Make your own noise to drown out the sound of the fireworks. I usually make it a movie holiday and watch the entire Back to the Future series and the Indiana Jones series (Indiana was named after his dog!) as loud as I can tolerate it. We also set up numerous fans in the safe room so that they produce a fairly decent amount of background noise.
- Use some type of pressure wrap. Although wraps such as the Thundershirt claim to completely eliminate anxiety we here at the Service Dog Academy have only seen them help in reducing the overall level of anxiety. We have several Thundershirts available for sale but you can make your own anxiety reducing wrap by using an ace bandage. See this webpage for more information on how to make your own anxiety reducing pressure wrap.
- Associate fireworks noise with positive things. If every time your dog hears a firework, the best treats in the world rained from the sky, your dog might not feel so scared.
- Try to keep your dog entertained all night long with Kongsicles or work to eat puzzles and plenty of high value bones to chew on. The act of chewing helps a dog to relieve anxiety. You can view our free youtube video on how to make a Kongsicle on our recent blog posting.
I hope these tips help you make the 4th more enjoyable for both you and your fur kids. I look forward to seeing you in our upcoming classes or around town sometime soon!
Happy Tails To You!
Mary McNeight, BGS, CCS
Service Dog Academy, Seattle WA