Is your dog a "scaredy cat dog?" As in, afraid of loud noises and bangs and booms of all kinds? Our dog, Baily, is (see photo to the left). It's perfectly normal for a dog to be afraid of loud noises, and their systems go into high alert. Their instincts tell them to run away. More dogs go missing over the Fourth of July celebration days than at any other time of the year. They also may be reacting to the odor given off when fireworks are ignited.
How can you help your terrified best furry friend to survive a scary night of fireworks or thunderstorms? Here are 6 ideas for you to try.
1. KENNEL. If your dog is comfortable in a kennel or crate, put a treat or a favorite toy in the kennel and let your dog go into its safe place. Help create an atmosphere of calm by closing the windows and blinds, even playing soothing music. Staying in the room with your dog until the event is over will also help your dog to calm down.
2. NEW LOCATION. Take your dog to a different location, away from the noise - a relative's or friend's home, or even a doggie day care with cement walls. Again, staying with your dog is most important.
3. SWADDLING. You can buy a kind of shirt at most pet supply stores that is wrapped snugly around your dog's torso. The snug fabric wrapped around the body is supposed to help slow down your dog's breathing and help it to feel more calm.
4. MODELING BEHAVIOR. Dogs are pack animals and will follow the lead of the pack leader (that's you). Be calm and act as if the event is no big deal. They take their cues from your behavior.
5. SEDATION. You may choose to speak to your vet about homeopathic calming solutions or anxiety medication. Remember to give this to your dog BEFORE the panting starts and your dog is showing signs of distress.
6. OUR SOLUTION. On the 4th of July, at 9:00 p.m., we go to our dog park out in the country and let our dogs run around with little lights on their collars for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Then we pile them into the truck, turn on the AC, turn up the music and drive down the highway for an hour or more as they relax and go to sleep. By the time we get home around midnight, the fireworks are over and our dogs aren't freaking out.
Hope these suggestions help you with the coming holiday and storm season. Have you found a way to keep your dog calm through noisy events? Please share your comments with us, and have a wonderfully patriotic - and safe - holiday with your family and friends (two- AND four-leggeds)!
Great idea from Kim,. A sound machine to mute the sound in your home.
Jane Hoffmann is a retired middle school teacher, professional soprano soloist and author of 31 books for teachers to use in their classrooms, as well as a devoted dog mom for over 20 years.