Every year many dogs run away from home or experience an incredible amount of stress anxiety during the Fourth of July. If your dog is sensitive to fireworks and starts to show stress/fear indicators (panting, pacing, digging, general flight risk panic, tucked tail) then consider discussing the issue with your vet and consider medication. If medication is the option you choose to help your dog then test the medication on your dog a few nights before the Fourth of July holiday. You want to observe how your dog reacts to the medication and to make any adjustments necessary based on that reaction.
Many years ago I cared for a dog who was highly sensitive to fireworks. She would completely panic and start digging. She was looking for any way out or a place to hide, my carpets and wood floors took a beating that year. No matter how much I tried distracting her she was completely focused on digging and hiding. It was terrible to watch Maggie suffer so much. The following year she spent the holiday with me again and after discussing Maggie’s issue with her owner we decided that medication would be helpful. A week before the fireworks we tested the medication on Maggie, it definitely calmed her but she was so doped up she could barely move or function. It was clear that she was over medicated and we decided to cut the medicine in half. The half dose was helpful enough to calm her but she was still able to walk and understand commands. Although medication is helpful don’t rely solely on the medication, use other stress relievers/reducers to aid your dog.
Exercise- Take your dog on a long walk or hike. Work on getting all of the energy out of them so they are tired. I always say, a tired mind is a malleable mind.
Thundershirt: This is a compression shirt you put on your dog. I use this product for other anxiety issues as well. It has a money back guarantee and you are able to add pheromones to aid your dog during these stressful times. Similar to the medication, always test this product on your dog. Observe your dog with it on and follow the instructions. This product does require some training and slow introduction, so plan on working with the thundershirt and slowly exposing your dog to it.
Rescue Remedy: This is an over the counter herbal medicine you put in your dogs water bowl. Many of my pet colleagues swear by this.
Loud Music: While the fireworks show commences consider putting your dog in a room that gets the least amount of noise from the outside. Play loud music or white noise to drown out the booms and bangs.
Redirect: This is a common training technique. If your dog gets up and starts to stress because they hear a loud boom, then ask your dog to sit or down. Try to get them focused on an exercise they are good at doing and something you can praise them for. The goal is to get them focused on something other than the cause of their anxiety.
Remember to be safe this Fourth, keep all doors and windows closed, take your dog outside to eliminate on leash and have wonderful and Happy Fourth of July!
PupTown Dog Daycare and Boarding