Does your Pet Have a Noise Phobia?
The 4th of July
(and any other fireworks night)
"Survival Guide for Dogs"
Learn how to keep your dog safe during
any holiday fireworks festivities . . .
Dogs and fireworks phobia |
Amy Bender - dog behavior expert states
Desensitise your dog to the sounds of festivities | Help ease your dog's fears?
Dealing with a dog's severe fear of fireworks | Heat Stroke
Practice summer safety | Dangerous foods
The 4th of July is a time of celebration. It's all about food, family, fun and fireworks. However, it can be a dangerous and frightening time for some dogs. I say some dogs, because I have litter sisters, Rosie who is normally top dog is terrified of fireworks and Molly doesn't turn a hair.
Dogs and fireworks phobia
Fireworks and some dogs simply do not mix, and more pets get lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year.
Many owners underestimate their dogs when it comes to fireworks. The truth is, even the bravest dogs can become terrified by their sound. The most kindest thing you can do for your dog is to keep him or her away from fireworks displays.
If you are planning on making the 4th of July a family outing to watch a firework display, do your best friend a favour and leave him or her at home.
If fireworks can be heard near your home, before you go make sure you give your dog a jolly good slurp of Rescue Remedy and a favourite treat that will take some time to demolish, e.g. a raw brisket bone or similar.
Also check that your pet has access to a place where they feel safe and cosy. Dogs respond well to being able to curl up in a darkened warm comfortable place which they can claim as their own.
When my girls want time out, they often take themselves off to my wardrobe where I leave a couple of old jumpers of mine for them to make a bed in.
If fireworks can be heard near your home, and you plan to be in for the evening, carry out the same procedure as if you were going out for the evening. There is nothing like a good old swig of Rescue remedy and a juicy bone to calm a distressed dog.
This a good time to remind you that you should always have your dog's vital information up to date and know where to put your hands on it to reduce any anguish suffered if your dog takes fright and disappears.
Amy Bender - dog behavior expert states
Fear of fireworks is a fairly common phobia for dogs. They often find the unpredictable loud noise and bright displays of lights truly frightening
Even a seemingly confident dog can tremble and drool at the unfamiliar sounds. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help your dog get through the festivities
Desensitise your dog to the sounds of festivities
Plan ahead to get your dog used to the sounds of the 4th of July or for any other functions on your calendar coming up that you know will involve firework displays, e.g. New Year's Eve.
This is called Desensitisation and can be done in a few simple steps.
- Step one, find a video or DVD recording of fireworks.
- Step two, play the recording at the lowest possible audio level a few times during the day.
- Step three, combine the sound of fireworks with things your dog particularly likes, meals, such as treats, cuddles, or a game.
- Step four slowly begin to raise the volume of the recording over the course of several days, and continue to combine the sound of fireworks with the things your dog likes.
- Step five, if at any point your dog begins to show signs of fear, turn the volume down to a point where he or she feels more comfortable.
- Step six, repeat this several times each day until your dog can hear the sounds of the fireworks at a fairly high volume without becoming fearful.
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Help ease your dog's fears
If you don't have time to prepare for the fireworks, or if desensitisation hasn't ended your dog's fear of fireworks completely, there are other things you can do to help ease his or her fears. These things may help with dogs who have a mild to moderate fear of fireworks.
- Don't change your behavior. Many people feel compelled to baby their dogs when their dog is showing signs of fear. We pet them more than usual, cuddle them, and talk to them in soft voices. Rather than easing a dog's fears, however, this often reinforces the dog's fearful behaviors.
- Try not to react to the fireworks yourself. If you jump or tense up when you hear fireworks because you are anticipating your dog's fear, you may make his or her fear worse. Your body language can tell a dog that there is a reason to be afraid.
- Drown out the sound of the fireworks. Try to turn up the radio or television and keep your windows closed during the fireworks. If the weather permits, a fan or air conditioner (if your dog isn't afraid of those sounds) can help too.
- Don't push your dog past his comfort zone. Allow him to hide if he feels more comfortable under a bed. Don't pull him out or try to force him closer to the fireworks in an attempt to get him used to the sounds. This may result in an increase in fear, and a frightened dog may become aggressive if pushed past his comfort level
Dealing with a dog's severe fear of fireworks
In the case of a severe phobia, nothing may work to ease your dog's fear. If there's a chance your dog make exhibit this level of fear, talk to your vet about medication. He may be able to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to keep your dog calm during the fireworks.
Medication may be the only answer to get through the fireworks this season. As soon as the fireworks stop, however, you can begin preparing for the next one with the program of desensitization described above.
A trainer or behaviorist may also be helpful. In severe cases, you may not ever be completely successful in eradicating the phobia, but at least you may be able to ease some of your dog's fear.
The 4th of July in the U.S. is one of the hottest days of the year.
Whilst many celebrations are held outdoors, we humans are able to come and go out of the house as we please, and if we feel like it we can even take a dip in the pool. We can also sweat to cool ourselves down
Unfortunately, our dogs do not have it so easy, they can't sweat as we do, and they can only cool themselves through their mouths and the pads on their feet - this means they are more prone to heat stroke than we are.
Practice summer safety
Summer days like the 4th of July can be wonderful time for you and your family and your dog to spend time outdoors celebrating and having fun.
However, it is important to understand that hot temperatures can be very dangerous for your pet and you must always be mindful of keeping him or her cool.
- Change your dog's drinking water frequently throughout the day and keep it cool by adding a few ice blocks every now and then
- Make sure he or she has plenty of shady spots to sleep under and relax outdoors and/or have unfettered entry into the house
- Most importantly of all, educate yourself about heat stroke in dogs
Picnic food and party dishes can be tempting for your dog, especially if the food is laid out buffet-style.
At a gathering of people, some food is bound to drop on the ground. The problem is that many everyday people foods are unhealthy or even poisonous to your dog, e.g. grapes and alcohol can actually be fatal!
Fatty foods can cause your dog to become very ill, possibly even leading to pancreatitis.
If swallowed by your dog, cooked bones, corn cobs and wooden barbecue skewers can traumatise the gastro intestinal tract (GI) and cause an obstruction, which could be fatal. In these cases, surgery is definitely necessary.
If your dog is a "food-scavenger", it is probably best that he or she is kept away from the party when people are eating.