For some of us, the Fourth of July celebrations come with a wee bit of dread if our animal companions don’t find the big bang of fireworks as inspiring as the rest of us. The reactions can range from being uneasy to full blown hysteria but there are a few things that can to done to lessen the fear factor and if you have the ability to think ahead (which I often lack) you can prepare your dog or cat to be better prepared. But I am going to pretend you are like me and didn’t think of that, so desensitizing is not on option- this year.
Before fireworks begin, take him on a very long walk or a play session that leaves his tongue hanging out. Get that pent up energy expelled so there is not too much reserve in the tank when the noise starts. Consider removing him from the antagonist by asking a friend who does not live near the fireworks to keep him overnight or a nice quiet boarding kennel in the country will do the trick if he is comfortable there.
Let’s talk about in the home. What can be done if you are not going to be home to comfort your baby? A crate covered with a blanket in a secure room with windows closed is a good option if Spot likes his crate. Put your nice dirty tee shirt in the mix for added mental comfort, couple it with soothing music and it will be as peaceful as you can make it. If Kitty doesn’t like crates you can create the same effect by leaving a closet door slightly ajar, throwing a dirty shirt on the floor or better yet a basket of dirty laundry. Don’t forget that tranquil music.
Cats have been known to claw through screen windows and doors as have dogs when motivated by fear, so do make sure whatever method you use, the windows are shut and the door to the room secure.
If you are going to be home, sometimes the above method is still the answer, but most of us like to be a little more hands on when our companions become distressed…even if they might do better being left alone.
Do take your dog out on a leash to potty even if your yard is fenced. Fear is a great catalyst when trying to do the impossible, like clearing a fence he has never attempted before.
Consider Bach Flower Essences- Rescue Remedy works well if given before anxiety levels get too high. Another good option is a ThunderShirt™ but Spot must be previously fitted and comfortable with his new suit to be effective. (see ‘thinking ahead’ as previously mentioned.) a wide (large dog) or medium (small to medium dog) ace bandage is a good supplement. There are some good video instructions at http://on.aol.com/video/how-to-calm-your-dog-with-an-ace-bandage-517335792
Don’t go crazy with the hands-on comfort. I know that might seem like an odd thing for me to say but it can be interpreted as YOU being anxious, which makes your pup or cat think they do have something to worry about because mom or dad is upset. Just an occasional pat on the head and a ‘everything is fine’ usually is enough. Make sure your energy matches what you are saying. It’s ok tell them you understand they don’t like the noise, but let them know it will be over soon and really means nothing. Allow them to choose a resting place, find a dark room, quiet closet…my Echo always liked going into my meditation room and came out occasionally for a pat on the head, then went back until the barrage was over. She was the only girl of mine that ever reacted negatively to thunder, loud trucks and fireworks…her mom, grandma, and sister never gave a hoot and I actually like storms so who knows from where the fear originated. Past life? A personal experience gone awry? Sensitive hearing? (She could hear me unwrap a candy bar in the kitchen when she was in the way back yard.)
The important things to remember are to keep her safe, then try to reduce her stress, which means we ourselves need to be in a calm place energetically speaking and not anticipate a disaster that hasn’t happened or to become frustrated that baby is becoming unglued. In that event, it is better to have the companion either watched by someone else at a different location as we discussed above or place them in the ‘quiet room’ and do not disturb them until it’s over.
Enjoy the festivities of one of our greatest holidays here in the USA. And if your companion cannot enjoy them, let’s at least keep them from as much distress as possible. Be safe and have a wonderful weekend!