One of the biggest parts of summer is celebrating the 4th of July, which comes with the light fireworks, but unfortunately, it also comes with a lot of scared pets. Here are some tips to make sure that your dog feels just as much love on this potentially scary day as the rest of the year.
A 2015 study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that dogs were more scared of fireworks than thunderstorms and even gunshots. As a result, animal shelters report that the day after July 4th is the busiest day of the year with runaways.
Here’s a list of ways to ensure that your dog doesn’t get lost and become one of these homeless pooches. Fireworks can be even scarier for your pooch if they are left home alone, as most are. Additionally, if your dog is typically above average in anxiety, more steps have to be taken to ensure that your dog isn’t miserable.
Fear of loud noises comes from your dog being anxious and not knowing what the source is. Understanding the cause of your dog’s behavior is the first step to remedying it.
What is Canine Anxiety?
While your dog may seem oblivious to stresses of the human world, a lot of what causes us to be anxious can affect them too. Experts say that major sources are separation, aging, and fear, with fear being the most common.
Similar to humans, fear of the unknown can cause pets to become anxious. If there are unfamiliar people or animals around, it might cause your pet undue stress. Loud noises are also the main cause of anxiety for pets.
Many pets don’t do well in unfamiliar environments. That’s one reason pets tend to get anxious when traveling. Some dogs also don’t do well when it comes to flying or driving in cars. Keeping your pooch occupied is a great way to distract them and channel their anxiety. For example, these elk antler chews great area way to fill the time and even give them essential nutrients.
These triggers can result in barking, bolting, jumping, and general sporadic behavior.
The first step is determining what is making your dog bark. You have to remember that your dog’s primary way of communicating with you is by barking. Dogs can bark for several different reasons, and being able to identify them is a key part of being an attentive pet owner.
Some dogs will bark when they get stressed or overstimulated. If your pet has anxiety, they may start barking at surprising noises. Another common reason dogs bark is because they want to protect their “territory” and “pack,” which is your home and family.
If there are other dogs in the neighborhood and your dog hears them barking, they may start barking in response. Conversely, some dogs bark when they get excited. This can be brought on by something as routine as daily feedings.
Train Your Dog
There are quite a few resources for training your pup, and spending at least 30 minutes a day with them is something we can all make time for. Regardless of the age of your dog. You can always begin training. If this seems like too daunting of a task, hiring a trainer is always a good choice. This is important so that when they’re feeling anxious, you can regain control and have their undivided attention on you. There are great training treats that make teaching old dogs new tricks a breeze.
Effective Training Methods
Human instinct is to yell at animals if they are being loud, but they interpret this noise differently than we do; they’re not able to distinguish whether you’re mad at them or upset with the sound. Your dog might even think that you are joining in with them and “barking” at whatever stimulated them.
Taking this approach is confusing to them, as they could interpret it as a positive affirmation. It is best to use another, more clear method to quiet your dog.
Another method you can involve positive reinforcement for not barking, although this method requires a little more strategy. Begin by finding a level of noise that they don’t react to and then reward the dog, either with a treat or verbal praise. As you increase the noise levels, you can reward them when they are silent, but make sure not to reward them when they do bark.
Certain dogs may be more sensitive to sounds than us because they cause pain. This allows them to hear sounds you may not even be able to detect. There are a number of different reasons your pet may bark, but understanding what they’re barking at and why is the first step towards fixing the problem.
Every pup is different, and different dogs will have their own unique response to stressful situations. Once you have been able to identify the cause of your pet’s anxiety, you can help to reduce or eliminate it. Talking with your vet is a great place to start, and they’ll be able to offer solutions for helping put your pet at ease. Also, following these simple anxiety-relieving methods should equip you with everything you need to calm your dog’s anxiety in no time!
Have you ever come home excited or jazzed about something? Your dog sees this as a reason to be happy too and can become just as happy and excited as you are! The issue can arise, though, if the dog doesn’t calm down as quickly as you do.
On the other hand, if you come home sad and down, your dog might pick up on this as well and try to comfort you or become sad himself. Bottom line is this: dogs closely observe their masters’ behavior.
This same principle applies with anxiety too. If you’re anxious—they become anxious, and if they’re afraid and you react in a highly emotional way, they become more anxious. This means that you need to be in control of your emotions so your pup can stay in control of theirs.
There are so many benefits to crate training that practically any savvy dog owner uses it as a tool. When a dog is feeling anxious, providing a safe place for it to settle down is key. Putting the crate in a corner with a blanket over it to block out light will assist with removing stimulation.
Associating the crate with safety and calming darkness makes it the perfect place for an anxious dog to go. By putting some of their favorite toys in the crate, you make space feel familiar, and the toys help distract them. Giving them something to chew on, like a Kong toy is the perfect way to keep them occupied.
Stop Rewarding Bad Behavior
All dog owners probably have done it at some point. Your dog’s been barking at a squirrel that just won’t go away, and you give them the treat to make it stop. Maybe they were barking at thunder, and you leaned down to pet and comforted them.
While it can be convenient or comforting for us to have these quick fixes, it teaches our pets that we approve of their behavior and go as far as to reward it. However, avoiding positive reinforcement doesn’t mean you should ignore the behavior.
If you’re still having trouble calming your dog’s anxiety, then consulting your vet for other remedies might be your best option. Solutions might include Benadryl, CBD oils, and prescription anti-anxiety medication. Even though these remedies certainly are the easiest, they can pose risks, some of which we don’t fully understand. Benadryl, for example, has the potential for overdose and has side effects.
CBD oil, however, has no known potential for overdose, but its effects in dogs haven’t been fully studied yet. Lastly, anti-anxiety medications often come with unwanted side effects—not to mention most anti-anxiety medications have high addiction potential.
If they’re anxious around other dogs, socialization is the remedy. Bring your dog to doggy playdates and slowly work up towards going to the dog park. Driving in cars is overwhelming? Easy—take them on short car rides and reward them frequently with treats and verbal praise, slowly working up to longer drives. The concept is fairly straightforward: find what provokes your dog’s anxiety, and make them familiar with those situations until they realize there’s nothing to be afraid of.
All of these methods are effective ways to help keep your dog calm during fireworks, but also are a great resource to have for curing general dog anxiety. Follow these tips to make sure your dog enjoys the show as much as you do!