It’s that time of year.
If you have a dog who is afraid of thunder and fireworks, you know just what I’m talking about.
Panic, pacing, panting, drooling, running away. Those are some of the symptoms that tell you your dog doesn’t appreciate the beauty of mother nature’s storms or the city’s annual fireworks display. Should we even talk about the neighborhood kids who find pleasure in making the most possible noise with their firecrackers and M-80’s for days surrounding 4th of July?
This is part 3 in my series of Keeping Your Dog Safe This Summer. If you missed Part 2 it’s here: Hidden Dangers That Can Quickly Kill Your Dog. And Part 3 is: To Shave or Not to Shave? What’s Best for Your Dog?
Over the years, I’ve had my share of dogs with sounds sensitivity, and have found there are definitely ways that we can help our dogs be more comfortable during these stressful times.
One of the most important things we can do is keep our dogs safe. More dogs run away in a panic and are lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. Don’t take any chances…keep your dog safe.
5 Best Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe and Calm during Fireworks and Thunderstorms
- Don’t take your dog with you to watch fireworks...or have your dog outdoors during a storm. Your dog’s ears are incredibly more sensitive than yours. As is her nose. Leave dogs at home when you head out for fireworks, and don’t ignite fireworks around dogs. Don’t leave your dog alone in your yard during storms or fireworks. You’d be amazed on how fast and how high a dog will jump/climb when they are in a panic and adrenalin is fueling the desire to get away from the scary stuff. And, you never know when your previously unaffected dog will become frightened.Aside from sounding scary, exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.
- Be sure your dog has a well-fitted collar or harness with identification. Even if your dog is normally so perfectly behaved she doesn’t need to wear a collar, a thunderstorm or 4th of July is no time to take a chance. Keep a collar with ID tags on your dog…and you might seriously consider microchipping your dog too. More dogs run away and are lost because of this fear than any other cause. Always leash your dog when you take them outdoors, even in your yard to potty if they are afraid. Don’t take any chances.
- Provide a Safe Haven for your dog. During any event that frightens your dog, like thunderstorms or fireworks, be sure your dog can get to a den where he feels safe. Because thunderstorms often create a static buildup on your dog, many dogs prefer to lay next to something that will prevent the buildup, like the toilet, the bathtub or next to a metal radiator. Fireworks or other loud noises make the basement a good choice for some dogs. Others prefer a covered crate in a cozy room they like. Play music just loud enough to help muffle the scary sounds. Close the curtains and turn ON the lights to soften the contrast of the lightening or firework flashes.
- Use Calming Products and Techniques. There are some great products that are designed to help calm anxious dogs. A Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Treatment is one of my favorites. They work with the ‘swaddling’ principle and are quite effective. A simple t-shirt can be really helpful in a pinch too. I also like to apply/diffuse some high-quality Aromatherapy blends designed to calm. As a long time certified TTouch practitioner, I use body work techniques with my own dogs and client dogs to teach them how to relax and release their anxiety.
Some of my clients and students have had success with using a cannibis product like CannaGurt by Steve’s. Or a yummy calming treat like True Hemp. It’s possible to get the benefit of calm (without the high) by using these products made for dogs. Give one or more a try!!
- Be Your Dog’s Safe Haven. One of the things I teach every one of my dogs is to run TO me when they are frightened so that I can help them get safe. This is a life-saving technique every dog should know.
What to do when Fireworks or Thunder starts:
At the first sign of my dog showing stress due to fireworks, thunderstorms, gunshots and other loud scary events, (or before, if I know in advance) I reach into my holistic toolkit. Click on any of the pictures or bold words for more information and to order the products.
1. Apply calming Lavender essential oil blend.
Place a couple of drops into your hand and rub your hands together. Then gently pet your dog, along their back and top of their head with your hands.
You can purchase the oils online here
The bottles last a very LONG time. There is a reducer cap, so you can control how much oil comes out.
2. Put on a Thundershirt or a simple Ace bandage body wrap, or a t-shirt, for a calming hug. A long-time practice, studies show that this gentle pressure has a calming effect that helps about 80% of dogs and cats. It works!!
4. Set up and assist my dog to their safe place. (see above tip)
5. Do TTouch body work to calm my dogs. Ear slides, and ttouches can help release fear, tension and stress in dogs who are afraid of thunder and fireworks.
6. If my dog is able to play and eat treats…then we have a partay! Lots of fun, play and treats in the house with some fun music makes a dog forget about their fear.
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