Helping Your Dog Cope with Fireworks
The 4th of July is quintessential Americana with backyard BBQ's, flip-flops, and a spectacular fireworks show. I love to participate in the festivities, but my dog? Not so much. Fireworks were a four letter word in our household, and while everyone else was enjoying a warm summer evening watching the night sky come alive with sparkles… my girl was camped out in the bathtub praying for daylight. Independence Day? It was more like Co-dependence day. Over the years I found ways to get both of us through the holiday that I hope you'll find helpful as well.
Reassurance, and coddling is instinctual when it comes to curbing fear, and anxiety. I learned that the more I paid attention, the more clingy, and frantic she became. I started ignoring the behavior, and would act casual like it was no big deal. The result? She wasn't cured by any means, but I noticed rather than coming to me, she would find her own comfort zone to ride out the storm whether it was the tub, her crate etc.
Herbal supplements such as Valerian Root, or Bach's Rescue Remedy are good over the counter remedies for mild cases of anxiety. Severe stress may require treatment with a sedative, but should always be discussed with your veterinarian to ensure the proper dosage. It's a good idea to make an appointment prior to the holiday to discuss the best options for managing a meldown. I found rubbing a bit of lavender essential oil onto her ears, and paws had a soothing effect, and it worked well for her mom too!
Stuff hollow toys with peanut butter or cheese for a tasty distraction, or engage your dog in an indoor game of fetch or impromptu training session. If your dog is reluctant to participate don't force them, as this can cause more anxiety.
Please don't leave your pets outdoors unattended where they may escape. Animal shelters take in many lost dogs this time of year, so make sure they are properly licensed with ID tags, and keep them safe inside.
To you, and your fur kids, I wish you a happy, and safe 4th!