Many dogs experience huge anxiety and panic during fireworks, firecrackers, thunder and other very loud, continuous events. The fear shows in a different variety of ways; the survival instinct in some dogs is so strong, they will try to escape at the first sign of danger while freeze, get completely paralyzed out of fear. These 2 are pretty obvious reactions to notice, but there are also some minor ones we can easily miss if we don't know what to look for. General restlessness, sneezing, salivation, shaking and hyperventilation are also signs of your dogs discomfort.
There are many exercises to do with your dog while he's still very young so he can develop some sort of an immunity to such events. But what if the dog is already afraid of loud noises (thunderstorms, fireworks), or is very old and not very trainable? In this article, we focused on how to handle single events when dogs starts panicking over loud sounds – mainly fireworks, with 4th of July approaching and a high possibility of loud celebrations that could trigger your dog.
- If your dog is used to being home alone while you're away, you should consider isolating him in the room he can't escape from. In panic, they can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles and do things completely unusual for them, and with you not being around, it could result in destroyed furniture or worse, they escape or somehow harm themselves.
- If you know your furry friend gets frightened during fireworks or thunderstorms, it's best if you try to plan for such events in advance (both fireworks and thunderstorms can be anticipated to some extent). Find a room as isolated from external sounds as possible, and arrange them a temporary bed. Try to make it as cozy as possible, and bring your dog there at least few hours, if not couple of days, earlier, so they get used to the new environment. It helps a lot if your little buddy is used to a crate, so you can just move his box there and it will instantly feel more familiar. When the fireworks go off, you can try to cover up the sounds with a portable speaker, tv, vacuum cleaner or any other »noise« your doggie can recognize and is used to. Another useful distraction can be a delicious bone they can chew or their favorite toy.
- Our first instinct is usually to calm the dog with by petting him, consoling him.. In most cases that won't work, as we're more confirming their fears than dealing with the problem. It is important that we remain calm, not show any signs of distress, like yelling at your neighbor's kids for throwing firecrackers, because the dog will understand that something is wrong. Another big mistake we usually do is to encourage our doggies with »feel good« phrases, as they will mistakenly understand it as your approval. The best distractions we can provide for them are toys and games, food or whatever works for your dog.
- There are many products on the market to reduce stress and panic attacks in your dogs, like our Anxiety support chewies based on chamomile, passionflower and hemp oil.
- In extreme cases a veterinarian can prescribe a mild sedative.
If there's one thing we'd like to point out, it's this – stay calm! Regardless of what happens, you showing signs of distress will be the ultimate approval for your dog that his fear is legitimate. Everything else depends on your dog, and how he or she will react to different things. It might even help to really exhaust your dog with a long walk or intense workout few hours before the anticipated storm or fireworks.
Have fun, stay safe!