One does not have to be a connoisseur of dogs to know the havoc brought upon a dog by the July 4th celebrations of a town’s display of pride or the back yard fire cracker celebrations where little Johnny blows off his finger because playing with matches is just not good enough for him! Heck, you only have to be a friend of a dog owner to hear the horror stories that are brought about during this celebratory day for millions of dog owners.
Sad to say that the questions will be coming in fast and furious when Fido’s mom has just realized that her peaceful neighborhood of 20 years has been invaded by new youth and her Fido is shaking severely in the bathtub because her street is suddenly lit up like the pomp and circumstance of a graduation march with sparkers, screams, claps, and the boom of the back yard, illegal fireworks festivities! (quite the mouthful huh?)
How do you get your dog through this?
Many would tell you to get the dog prepared beforehand by playing videos or recordings before the dreaded day and gradually make them louder and louder as you go about your normal business in the home. This is great if you did not procrastinate trying this or you were not caught in its direct path like the lady in the above scenario.
First and foremost keep the dog safe! And I do not consider leaving the dog in a locked car during festivities safe, just sayin’. If you are not sure how your dog will react to a firecracker never let them out alone, grab a leash and walk ‘em, even if it’s your own back yard! I had a neighbor whose dog ran off when a firecracker was shot off two doors down from her. The dog was lost for several days and it was an old dog that needed daily care. Thankfully someone found the dog and the dog was returned home safe and sound.
If your dog is like my Steeler boy, he knows how to open the windows and jump out. Be sure all your windows and doors are locked and secure, then call me to remind me to do the same! (I’m so forgetful these days!)
1) Don’t wait until 5 PM the day of the celebrations to seek out a prescription from your vet for tranquilizers. When you give a dog a new drug you want to make sure you know how the dog will react to it. Will there be an allergic reaction that will send you and Fido to the Emergency room? Also In many cases meds need to be given an hour before you are expecting the mental trauma of noise to begin.
2) Okay so you didn’t give the above recommendation the forethought needed, no fear, you can pick up something at your local drug store. Benadryl allergy will for the most part make Fido drowsy so that can help. (WARNING! DO NOT use the Benadryl allergy/ sinus!) You can find information on dosing and precautions here. http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/diphenhydramine-benadryl/page1.aspx
3) The second over the counter medication you can try is melatonin and this can be given up to three times a day, but of course you want to read dosing, and precautions from the site below. I have had great success with this during thunderstorms, so with my brood and size of dogs I order this by the bucket full! Puritans Pride usually has great sales on this!
4) Another option that works for some (but it never did for me) is Rescue Remedy which can be found at health stores. I tried this product years ago at my sister’s suggestion and found that I had a hard time getting enough of the spray into the dog’s mouth so there was no affect and the product was expensive. Not to mention most of the spray seemed to end up in my eyes as I looked closely at the dog’s mouth to insure it got in there! Ugh, Dork! You can by drops to put in the dog’s water but if your dog doesn’t drink, well then it is useless as well. As per the site below it has not been tested for safety and side effects. However I will give you this information so you can make your own informed decision. Every dog is different.
Let us remember that what works on humans does not always work or is not always safe for dogs.
**Never give any over the counter meds without first consulting your Vet please!**
Thunder Shirt/Anxiety Wrap
I certainly can’t dismiss this one as many have had great success with it and as I said every dog is different so why not give it a try. If it does not work the company will take it back and you get a refund, but order it now so it comes in time for the big day! You can read my recent post on this product here. http://2ndchance-caninecapers.blogspot.com/2011/09/thundershirts-for-dogs-do-they-work.html
DAP (dog appeasing pheromones ) diffuser or collar
A lot of people swear that this also works though I have not tried it myself. This is a scent that mimics the scent of a mother dog when nursing her pups. I guess depending on how old the dog is will determine how well it works. If your dog has dementia and cannot remember the nursing stage it may do nothing to calm it! Of course anything is worth a try. You can find these at your Vet office.
NOTE: I did take a Face Book poll with some of my dog owner friends, (and we all know how very reliable a Face Book poll is!) 1 out of 11 people thought it worked, 2 said it did not work for them, and 8 had never tried it. That’s it! The poll is now closed due to time constraints! More on DAP products here: http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/dog-appeasing-pheromone-dap-canine-appeasing-pheromone-apaisine/page1.aspx
Turn up the volume!
If you can stand it, turn up the volume to the TV to lessen the outside noise, the dog will likely still hear the boom but it may not be as intimidating. Turn on the loudest fans you have as a white noise as well. Thank you Annette B for reminding me of this! Generally I tell people to use a floor fan when dealing with crying puppies, but I did not think about this other use!
Cotton in the ears, the dog’s ears of course!
Putting a wad of cotton in the ears may also help lessen the noise factor.
Make a Den
Some dogs only find solace in a darkened corner or closet, there’s nothing wrong with this to get them through the night. However, you do not want to coddle the dog who is scared as this reinforces that scared behavior and each time it will get worse, sometimes to the point where all loud noises become a problem. Tossing a mind stimulating toy into the den may be helpful as the dog might concentrate on that. Something like a kong stuffed with cream cheese.
Work/play with the dog during the noise
If the dog is only slightly bothered by the noise start building up the confidence now through training and this can come in the form of fun such as hide and seek or identifying objects. By doing this the dog has to use its mind, keep focused, and is rewarded through play. This will also help the dog to associate the noise with something fun happening.
Last but not least
And last but not least, if all else fails, remind your significant other that if he/she really loved you, they would take the dog out for a long, long, fun car ride for a couple of hours until it is all over!
What? No good?
Okay, okay, forget the significant other idea, best to punish the kids the day before the festivities for some reason only known to you, and then tell them in order for them to be un-grounded they must take Fido out for the night!