The countdown is already on for the Fourth of July. While that can be a fun-filled event for many families, we know that many dog lovers, like us, dread the holiday every year due to their fearful dogs.
Our dog Irie is afraid of fireworks (as well as thunder, gunshots, and other loud sounds). We have been able to manage her fears with a variety of techniques, patience, and products. She’s still fearful but she’s more comfortable these days during fireworks or thunder than she was in years past.
This week on our DOG TRAVEL EXPERTS show, Tracie and I discussed fireworks phobia. After the show, many of you emailed me and asked more about fireworks and how we handle them. I wanted to share some tips and products we’ve used in our home to help manage Irie’s fear.
As I mentioned, we’ve used a combination of products and techniques to help ease Irie’s stress; no one thing “cures” her of her fear but several do help:
- We make sure Irie is indoors before fireworks might possibly begin. We have the television on louder than usual during this time.
- We don’t live in an area that’s illuminated by fireworks; the sounds she hears are distant. We don’t have to worry about lights from the fireworks but, if we did, we’d make sure she was either in a room with no windows or in one with blackout curtains. When we have a thunderstorm, we know that the night storms, with the flashing lightning, are more frightening to her.
- We try to distract her with chews. She LOVES to chew so we keep either a bully stick or a new marrow bone ready to distract her.
- When she panics and runs through the house, we open up a (windowless) closet for her. She likes to burrow beneath my hanging clothes in the closet.
- If she runs around inside the house, we put a leash on her and walk with her, back and forth, from one end of the house to another. (We do NOT go outdoors.) Dogs cannot multitask so this puts her mind on walking.
- We put pee pads in front of the front door. We know that she will hold it as long as she can but that she will not go outdoors during fireworks or a loud storm. She will go to the front door since that’s her usual way out to her “restroom” so she understands the use of the pee pads.
- I try to encourage her to cuddle on the couch. This often works; she’s a big girl but she likes to squeeze behind me and lie between my back and the back of the couch. She feels secure that way.
- We put a compression garment on her before the fireworks start. We use a Thundershirt; we’re going to be reviewing Anxiety Wrap in July. If you don’t have a swaddling garment, you can improvise with an Ace elastic bandage. Wrap the torso like a hug (not tightly). A t-shirt, dog sweater or other garment can also be used to give that feeling of swaddling.
The Anxiety Wrap is designed to use both acupressure and gentle swaddling pressure to calm your fearful dog using thin fabric of special interest to anyone concerned about summer heat.
This collar contains pheromones much like those produced by a nursing mother to calm her pups. The collar is worn continuously unless the dog is being shampooed. Adaptil also makes a spray and a diffuser.