Fear is fear, and although you and I know fireworks will not hurt us, your dog may not understand. There are ways you can help support them both leading up to, during, as well as in the quiet times between loud noise events such as storms and fireworks.
Here is a list of some of the ways you can help your dog; it is worth incorporating a few together, to see which supports your dog best:
1) Give plenty of mental and physical exercise before an event happens, this can help tire your dog out and encourage sleep.
2) Provide access to a safe place. This is very important for your dog to feel comfortable and have a place to escape to. If introduced well, crates can be a great option; offering a safe, den-like feel, they can be one of your dog’s favourite go to places.
3) Use a Thundershirt or similar. This wrap applies body pressure that can help to induce a feeling of calm. If your dog is comfortable wearing the vest, it could have a grounding influence and reduce anxiety during stressful occasions; much like when you swaddle a baby or use a weighted blanket. You can also do something similar with a crepe bandage and a t-shirt.
4) Diffuse or use essential oils. Comforting scents such as lavender or copaiba oil, which are calming on the nervous system, can both promote feelings of relaxation. Note: It is vital to use an organic therapeutic grade oil as many essential oils on the market contain synthetic additives that could be harmful to your dog. We can help you with this.
5) Spray Rescue Remedy, or more targeted Bach Flower Remedies and Australia Bush Remedies. These flower essences can be given frequently (every 15mins) until your dog starts to calm. You can use the human Rescue Remedy you get from the chemist or get a custom blend from the health food store such as, Aspen or Mimulus which are for fear and anxiety. For more information on flower essenses look here.
6) Play music such as classical music & reggae (both types in particular have been found to be calming for dogs). Alternatively have the normal radio on or the tv, as this will help drown the sound out and be part of normal household noises. ‘Through a dog’s ear’ is a collection of music specifically chosen for the calming effect it can have on dogs. There are also some great calming music apps for dogs as well as Youtube, which can be great for streaming calming music. Be sure not to only use the music during a loud event as it could become a sign for your dog that the scary noises will happen.
7) Use Adaptil (DAP- dog appeasing pheromone)- This appeasing pheromone is designed to help dogs feel secure. It can be used in diffuser form or as a spray that can be put on a bandana and either tied around your dog’s neck or placed on their bedding.
8) Massage, Tellington Touch (T-touch) moves or other body work can also have a calming effect, it also is a nice activity to do to increase your connection with your dog.
9) If your dog is interested in engaging with play, this can offer a good distraction to the sounds outside and create a positive link to them.
10) Be there and be calm. Your presence can be a supportive one but be mindful of the energy you give off to your dog. If you are anxious they will pick up on this. For some dogs, pats can offer calming help, while for others that are over threshold, it can exacerbate the hyperactivity. Watch to see if it helps or not and if you are unsure pull back and go about doing normal activity.
If your dog is not afraid of fireworks, don’t be tempted to take them to celebrations. Dogs’ hearing is much more sensitive than ours and being right near the source of the bangs could trigger an anxious response. This association could then have a lasting negative impact.
You can help prepare your dog for when the storms and fireworks do happen with a training program that incorporates desensitization & counter conditioning. This in combination with the above strategies can have a huge impact on reducing your dog’s anxiety when the next loud bangs happen.
If you are considering medication to help your dog, consider the risks and side effects there are and know just how effective they actually are for the problem. More info on medications here.
Hope these tips help bring some harmony to your dog during these occasions. If your dog suffers from phobias or anxiety and you don’t know where to start, we can help. Please contact us to discuss specific options for your dog today. For additional options you could try, you can also explore here.
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