Cue the “Jaws” music…
One of the worst days of the year for our poor US-based dogs.
And if your neighborhood is anything like mine, people have already been shooting off fireworks on a nearly-nightly basis. Last week we had a power outage for hours. Apparently, when that happens, you take all your fireworks outside and shoot them off. Hopefully that cuts down on Friday’s display.
Anyway, those of us who have dear, sweet, scared pups know: the Fourth can be a nightmare. Heck, it can be a nightmare for confident dogs!
For dogs with sound sensitivity – something that crops up in fearful dogs but also can manifest in “confident” dogs – the Fourth is a stressful event. Lucas is sound sensitive. He dislikes the hair dryer, the vacuum, kitchen appliances – but he’s learned how to either ignore/avoid those things or remove himself from the situation.
With fireworks, those options aren’t available.
His typical reaction: He hears a crackle or boom and begins running around, frantically barking. If we’re outside, he’ll jump against the fence. If we’re inside, he just runs from one end of the room to the other. In between bursts, he takes a wide stance and pants with huge, round eyes. By the end of the night, he’s completely exhausted from expending all that frantic energy.
Unless you have a sound-proof room, there’s not much you can do to alleviate the loud crashes. However, here are the steps we take that could help with your sound sensitive pup, too:
- The dogs stay in the most internal area of the house, shades drawn.
- If you have a Thundershirt, put it on before the fireworks start. (However, don’t let this be the first time your dog ever wears one… be sure to test it out and help him get used to it prior to the Fourth.)
- Plug in a pheremone diffuser or spray the room with a spritz.
- We used to give Lucas Benadryl, but it didn’t do a thing for him. We now use Rescue Remedy. I’m not sure how much it really helps, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
- Finally, it’s often recommended to turn on the radio or TV. Music doesn’t soothe Lucas. At all. I suspect that for dogs who are sound sensitive, it’s just more noise in the environment. However, there’s been a lot of praise for the iCalm. If it works for your dog, great!! If you have a sound sensitive dog, be cognizant of adding further noise and stress.
We hear scary stats every year, like more dogs escape on this night – and end up in the shelter – than any other. So, whether your dog is sound sensitive or not, please keep him/her inside during the fireworks displays this Friday. Make sure everyone has a potty break before outdoor festivities get rolling, then tuck your dog safely inside – these guys are going to have access only to our bedroom and the hallway because it’s the most internal spot in the house. We set baby gates up at the kitchen door and the stairwell leading upstairs so that they have to stay in that safe, internal space.
Each of those tactics is individual to Lucas. Music could be great for your dog, while the Thundershirt doesn’t help at all. The goal is to pick and choose those things that do help your individual pup.
That’s why I’m posting this TODAY instead of on the Fourth! If you live somewhere where people shoot off the little backyard fireworks, you now have three full nights to test different calming strategies! You’ll be all set by Friday!
How does your dog do with the fireworks? Any additional strategies or suggestions to share?