Making a bang!
It’s almost time for beach barbecues, fun in the sun and those magical fireworks again. Yes, 4th of July is just around the corner and us humans are reveling with the thought of painted night skies. But anyone who has ever owned a pet will tell you how stressful and awful those same firework displays are for the animals. Dogs can hear in frequencies ranging between 40 Khz to 60 Khz which in turn means they can hear sounds four times farther than humans . Now put that into perspective… What sounds like a fun boom to us probably sounds like a deadly explosion to them. Of course these sounds will terrify our beloved pooches! Dogs will often display and experience different symptoms depending on the level of their fear or anxiety. Some of these include shaking, restlessness, harsh breathing, vomiting, diarrhea and most dogs will try to escape the noises causing extreme harm to themselves . When faced with this extreme fear a dog’s natural instinct is to escape and will often try to bite, chew, scratch or dig in order to flee from what is terrifying them. It is a basic survival instinct. There are many ways to help your dog and also some things you shouldn’t do. First of all, always ensure that your dog is kept safely inside during these displays. Even dogs that normally stay outside should be brought inside for their own safety. Having a tv or radio playing in the background will help to drown out the loud bangs. If possible create a safe space for your pooch. When the anxiety starts a dog will usually find a small dark space where they feel safe when hiding there. Allow them to hide in their space and ensure that it is safe for them. Do not try to force them out or even put them in a crate. Your dog needs to be able to move freely in and out of their safe space and if they cannot do so, they might get hurt trying to escape . Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and tags even if pooch is an inside dog. You want to make sure in the event that your dog does escape, there will be a way to get reunited. For added safety, mark the inside of Fluffy’s collar with a permanent marker just in case the tags fall off. It is also very important to have your pet microchipped as shelters experience their busiest days around 4th of July. Another way of keeping your pet’s anxiety levels down is by keeping them distracted. Try playing their favorite game during noisy times, but if it is clearly not working do not continue as you do not want Fluffy to associate play time with negative feelings. Another thing to avoid is giving them attention or treats when they display fearful behavior. They might see attention or treats as an award for being scared and will thus internalize it as being the proper way to act. Instead, try to act normal even when Fluffy is freaking out. A dog should also never be scolded or punished for being frightened. The best method to deal with loud noises and your dog’s anxiety is a process that will take some time and patience. You would need to slowly condition your dog to not be fearful of noises but to rather associate these noises with happiness. The best way to do this is to play a recording of these noises, starting at a very low volume. During this you would play or give your dog treats or even go for a fun walk immediately after. Each day the recording would be played slightly louder as you condition your dog to not fear these bangs anymore. This is not an easy process and if not done correctly you could worsen your pet’s fears and anxieties so please be sure to read up on the process before starting. If all else fails speak to your veterinarian about sedatives or even thundervests, but never give your pet over the counter or human medication. Luckily in recent years a company in the UK has developed quiet fireworks, designed to still have all the glamour without the glitz. A town in Italy recently completely switched over to these fireworks in the hopes of making their town a little safer for their four-legged population. Hopefully, more towns and cities around the world will follow suit and start using these pet-friendly fireworks. It is possible to have the best of both worlds! We all love our pets and protecting them over these holidays is a small gesture in comparison to what they do for us daily.
Article by Zerelda Daniels