For most people, the July 4th holiday is a time of relaxation and celebration that brings the pleasures of picnics and parades. For most pets, it's an opportunity to spend quality time with their owners. Yet when darkness falls and the sky lights up with explosions of light, color, and sound, Fido's fear of fireworks can turn a perfect day into a nightmare.
While some dogs remain calm during a fireworks display, others get rattled. Still others become panicked. His senses are so much more acute than ours, and he has no way of understanding what's going on. Symptoms of Fido's fear can include whining, whimpering, scratching at the door, hiding, trembling, even piddling.
If your dog is one of the fearful ones, there are a couple of things you can do to make the evening less traumatic for him:
Don't leave him alone. Some dogs like to be comforted. Others just need to know you're there. Without you present, though, his anxiety — which can escalate to property destruction — soars. Make sure there's a safe, comfortable space for him to retreat to. And if it's furnished with old clothes or blankets that smell like you, all the better.
Hold him tightly. There's science behind this: Animal behaviorist Temple Grandin believes in wrapping a pet using maintained pressure. Some pet owners have had success with pressure wraps such as the Thundershirt, Anxiety Wrap and Storm Defender cape. Or simply wrap a dry towel around his middle and hug him to you.
Distract him. Bring him indoors. Draw the shades and curtains. Roll a ball. Introduce a new toy. Turn the radio or TV way up. A bone filled with peanut butter can act like a magic wand to whisk away anxiety.
Relocate him. If fireworks totally traumatize him, take him to a place where it's unlikely he'll experience them.
Sedate him. This is an option to discuss with your veterinarian. If you can't get him away the fireworks, giving him a tranquilizer prescribed for him can help. Do not give him medicine intended for humans.
Remind him it will be over soon. This may be more for your sake than for his... but the sound of your voice alone can have a calming effect.
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