Independence Day is coming, and although it should be a day of celebration, it’s one of the most dreaded holidays for pet owners. Even where fireworks are illegal, there always seems to be someone setting them off near home. The loud bangs and heavy vibrations can be frightening for our dogs, making it difficult to calm them down during the chaos. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help ease their stress.
#1 – Stay With Your Dog
Many people feel that staying with your dog during times of extreme anxiety only perpetuates their behavior, but this is likely not the case. Although destructive behavior due to anxiety can be managed with training, you don’t want to begin addressing this issue during a period of extreme fear. Dogs are pack animals and they naturally want to be with their families when they’re afraid, so leaving them alone can greatly worsen the situation. Even if your dog is crated, make sure you stay in the same room with them.
If you’ve got other things to do around the house and your dog isn’t happy unless he’s clinging to you, you should try the “When You’re Away” Comfort Cuddler™ from the iHeartDogs store. Stuff it with a shirt you’ve worn recently and your dog can cuddle with your scent and make it easier for you to move freely. Still, it’s best that you stay where your dog can find you should he need reassurance.
#2 – Provide A Safe Place
Dogs naturally want to seek shelter from something that’s frightening them, even if they can’t place their anxiety on any one specific thing (in the case of fireworks, they can usually only hear and feel the scary thing, not see it). Many owners view crates as a bad thing, but it’s really quite the opposite. When used properly, your dog’s crate turns into their safe place or den during times of stress and anxiety. Fill it with your dogs favorite toys, blankets or even some clothes that smell like you to help them feel more comfortable inside. Offering this type of shelter gives your dog the option to safely hide and feel much more secure in their environment.
#3 – Drown Out The Sound
Dogs have exceptional hearing so preventing them from hearing the booms and pops of July 4 is impossible. You can however dull the sound by closing the windows, turning on the air conditioning, and playing soothing music. This will help rob the fireworks of some of their fear-inducing power.
#4 – Seek Veterinary Help
Sometimes, especially if the anxiety is severe, natural therapies are not enough to help your dog find relief. In these cases, seeking the help of your veterinarian is ideal. There are anxiety medications that dogs can take regularly or during times of extreme stress, such as on the 4th of July. A professional dog trainer can also help you manage your dog’s anxiety, especially if they become destructive and a danger to themselves.
Whatever route you decide to take, or both if necessary, it’s important to remain your dog’s advocate and make sure that whatever you do to help ease your dog’s anxiety will keep them safe and comfortable.