The 4th of July will soon be upon us, a day anyone with anxiety-driven dogs looks upon with dread. I was pleased to find this timely article on Pedigree.com that speaks to how to deal with our overwrought beloveds. This day can be a travesty waiting to happen, but with proper planning and work you can get through it unscathed. But be aware, this is the one day of the year when more pets go missing than any other day simply because the noise is so distressing so take nothing for granted. Be aware, and be safe. From Pedigree.com:
Ahh, the good old 4th of July—backyard barbeques, family time, and an excuse for a day outdoors with the dog you love. But when darkness sets in, and neighbors start launching their star-spangled display of lights around the block, your dog will likely want to run for the hills! Much like thunderstorms, the loud, vibrating noise of fireworks is both unfamiliar and frightening to our dogs. But look on the bright side—there are ways you can help keep their fears at bay.
The key is to gradually get your dog accustomed to the sound he associates with a negative experience. The easiest way to introduce him to the idea is to play videos of fireworks—with good sound quality—on repeat until he slowly begins to welcome the experience. Simply go on YouTube and do a video search for fireworks. Start off using a lower volume, and give him a treat, so he can begin associating fireworks with positivity. If he starts to panic at any point, turn the volume down and take a break. Depending on his comfort level, turn the volume up when needed.
Something else to remember is dogs smell fear. Make sure you react positively to any fireworks display when in your dog’s presence. Act as if you would any other day and try not to baby him because this may actually reinforce his fear. Instead, try drowning out the noise with a loud fan, background music, or your favorite T.V. show.
You may also want to consider the latest anti-anxiety inventions—the Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap. Both products use pressure to “hug” your dog and calm him, reducing anxiety from loud noises, separation, travel, crate training, hyperactivity, and more.
Some of your dogs may react more seriously to a fireworks display than others. If your dog suffers from a serious phobia of fireworks, your vet will be the best source for guidance and answers. He or she may want to prescribe your dog medication or suggest sessions with a trainer or behaviorist.
Your dog may never fully welcome the sound of fireworks, but the good news is there is such a thing as making progress. With a little patience, anything is possible!
To make your own body wrap, follow these instructions from Ehow.com:
Place the middle of an elastic bandage (wide for larger dogs, narrow for small dogs, medium-wide for mid-sized dogs) across the dog’s chest. Bring both ends up and cross them over the shoulders. The wrap will touch and connect the front, back, right, left, top, and bottom parts of the dog’s body. Cross the bandage over the top of the shoulder blades. Cross the loose ends of the bandage under the abdomen. Tie the loose ends over the top of the lower back. Or wrap the middle of the bandage around the front of the chest. Then cross over the back and then under the belly and back up around the chest and secure. As the wrap presses down on the dog’s fur, re-tie the wrap to make sure it fits snugly. The wrap should remain snug, but not tight, so check it periodically to be sure it doesn’t obstruct movement or circulation. When finished, the figure-8 wrap will surround the dog with uniform calming pressure. The wrap may only be needed for a short time or it can be left on as long as necessary to relieve fear, tension, or anxiety.
Using a Shirt as an Anxiety Wrap
Alternatively, a very snug shirt or a spandex tank top will work well as a pressure wrap. Put the t-shirt or tank top backwards on the dog, with the tail poking through the neck opening. Snugly tie the ‘shirt tails’ across the dog’s chest. Some people sew parts of ace bandages onto the shirt so that the bandages can be wrapped around appropriate parts of the dog. This will allow you to focus pressure at points that seem most soothing for a particular dog.
Start by putting the wrap on your dog when she is in a relaxed state, so your dog associates the wrap with relaxation. Eventually, or in some cases immediately, the physical sensation of wearing the wrap will provide the dog with a feeling of safety and comfort and will distract the dog from focusing on her fears. A pressure wrap often successfully calms a dog the first time you use it, however some animals require more experiences wearing the wrap before symptoms are reduced or eliminated.
NEVER leave a dog unsupervised while it is wearing clothing in which it may become entangled.
And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.