There are two things my dog Madeline does not like: people and fireworks.
Besides me and Andrew, she has never had any use for people, really. She finds them loud, insufferable, and scary (and she’s not even on Twitter).
Come to think of it, those are all the reasons she hates fireworks too.
She manages her fear of both in different ways though.
With people she doesn’t like, she growls, barks, lunges and will go for your ankles the minute you turn your back.
Fireworks wind her up in a totally different way. The loud noises get her so agitated, she’ll pace and dig at her bed for really long periods of time. She’ll pant as though she just won the Boston Marathon, and she’ll try to get in my lap.
The lap part is the most out of character for her because she is anything but a lap dog. She likes to be near you, but she’s never been the kind of dog who loves lots of pets and cuddling. When fireworks are going off though, she can’t seem to get close enough to me, poor thing.
I like to joke that her disdain for people is just because she’s a cranky ol’ bitty. The truth is, she’s just a very anxious, fearful dog. She’s been that way since she was a puppy. So of course, loud noises freak her out.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing fireworks going off intermittently for weeks now. So while many 4th of July fireworks shows have been canceled, there seems to be a higher number of people setting off fireworks in their own neighborhoods, which can cause even more stress for your furry friends.
With the loud and unpredictable noises made from fireworks, your dog may manifest her stress in a number of ways. The “fight or flight” instinct runs high right now, which makes this the time of year we see the most dogs getting lost. Keep your pets safe this holiday, with the following tips:
- Top up your dog’s water bowl. Anxious dogs pant more and get thirsty.
- Feed your dog a while before you expect any disturbances. Once the fireworks start your dog may be too anxious to eat.
- Make sure you shut all doors and windows in your home and don’t forget to draw the curtains. This will block out any scary flashes of light and reduce the noise level of fireworks. Don’t forget to block off cat flaps to stop dogs (and cats) escaping.
- Make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if they feel scared. Make sure to fill it with their favorite blankets, toys or an item of unwashed clothing, as these may help them feel safe.
- You can also play music or turn on the television to help cover the noise. Give dogs a bully stick or chew toy to help occupy their time.
- Tire your dog out by exercising them often throughout the day. A couple of really long walks work like a charm with my dogs, so by the time evening comes around, they are thoroughly exhausted.
- Use calming spray or oils (Rescue Remedy, Calming Chews, Lavender Calming Spray).
- If your dog already uses a Thundershirt, a garment that is supposed to help dogs with anxiety, put this on them (the Thundershirt should be put on a few days prior to the 4th in order for your dog to acclimate if they haven’t used one before).
It’s likely that because most fireworks shows have been quietly canceled this year, there will be more folks setting off fireworks in their own neighborhoods well beyond the holiday weekend, so if the loud noises continue, there are more chances for your dog to freak out and go into flight mode.
Here are some suggestions for what to do in order to reunite with them as quickly as possible if they do get lost:
- Make sure your pet has an updated ID tag worn on a secure collar.
- Get your pet microchipped before the 4th of July holiday. If your dog is already chipped, check to make sure the contact information is up to date.
- If your pet runs away, immediately begin searching your neighborhood and post signs.
- Visit your local animal shelter’s website. The photo listings on the Pasadena Humane website, pasadenahumane.org/pets, are updated hourly so that lost animals may be quickly reunited with their owners.
Be safe out there, everyone!