At this time of year I’m of course asked about getting dogs to handle the sound of fireworks. You could make some good strides even with only three weeks to go before the big day. Do try desensitizing and counterconditioning: put on a recording of firecracker sounds while your dog is having dinner; keep the volume low and not too close to where he’s eating. If he has a bad response, pull back: let it play for just a few seconds at a time. Increasing the volume and duration gradually can sometimes help with the real thing. Add in some extra fabulous treats.
The sounds of sudden explosions sure aren’t normal, so how can you make things better for Sam? Go buy a Thunder Shirt right now. Put it on your dog when you’re home just relaxing, then take it off after an hour or two. Then do that again. You want to create a positive association with the Thunder Shirt–not just put on the scary shirt during scary times. Now add a little lavender oil to the shirt for added relaxation. Now try both for most of the holiday weekend. You can also add a terrific Calming Collar of synthetic pheromones that simulate a lactating female–they love Mama even as adults. Dogs who have a particularly bad response can even get a little help from your vet with a bit of medication. Have a young puppy? Now is the best time in her life to desensitize her! Give her a bone she’s never had before and watch her ignore those sounds.
This 2019 Fourth of July extravaganza will be particularly long: there may be fireworks for two weeks, since the holiday itself falls on a Thursday! Yikes. Your TV or radio should be on to disguise some of the noise. Your windows should be closed. YOU SHOULD BE HOME!! YES, YOU SHOULD SKIP THE BARBECUE! “My dog is just fine with the Fourth of July sounds.” How do you know? Because you are home with her? That may be a big part of why she’s fine. Indeed, lots of dogs have little issue with the noises–my own are just fine–but leaving them to listen to random “gunshots” at home by themselves is just not fair. You know what’s the most unfair? Bringing them with you to the park to see the fireworks! And skip Fourth of July parades, too! Those are crazy ideas.
Nationally animal control sees a 30 percent increase in lost pets on the Fourth, and July 5th is the busiest day at shelters! If we love our dogs, we don’t want them to be afraid. So just stay home. Put another tofu dog on the grill pan inside and cuddle with Sophie. She’ll love the time with you and she’ll know you have her back. You can party on Labor Day.