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Preparing Your Dog for the 4th of July

Is your dog fearful of loud noises and fireworks? 


While the 4th of July is a time for celebration, bbqs, and family gatherings, many dogs with noise sensitivities and phobias find it to be a particularly stressful holiday. Fireworks can be very frightening and cause your dog to become fearful and anxious. Remember that dogs perceive sound more acutely than humans do and loud, booming noises can sound much more intimidating to them than to us. If you know your dog has this issue, the time to prepare for the 4th of July is right away!

Make sure your dog has up-to-date ID and/or a microchip. Dogs that become frightened by fireworks can bolt from the house in fear and in case of this extreme situation, having proper ID can help to reunite you with your dog sooner than later. Do a check of your home and property to determine if there are any areas your dog might break out of when frightened. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, this is an option, although some fearful dogs may become even more stressed in a crate, so find the best place in your home that fits your own dog's individual needs and personality. For some dogs this might be in the bathroom, under the bed, in a closet, or in your basement (if you have one!) where outside noise is muffled. There are even some dogs who do better taking a ride in the car.

Working with a behavior professional can help by determining if you can desensitize your dog to loud noises. Most behavior modification programs take time however, so there are steps you can do in the meantime to make your dog more comfortable on the holiday. You can find behavior professionals at www.iaabc.org, www.animalbehaviorsociety.org, and www.dacvb.org.

If you're concerned about how your pet will handle the 4th of July, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away to discuss all your options. Your veterinarian may recommend prescribing a sedating medication, such as alprazolam or diazepam, depending on the severity of your dog's condition. There is also a new product on the market, Sileo®, that may help dogs with noise phobias. Some other products that pet owners have used to varying levels of success including calming wraps, such as the Thundershirt or wraps with ace bandages, synthetic pheromone diffusers, and "natural" remedies such as melatonin, Rescue Remedy, valerian or L-Theanine.

Other possible options that some dog owners have found helpful is playing calming music or "white noise" generators. Most smartphones have applications you can download that play relaxing sounds such as white noise, rain sounds, and more. Through a Dog's Ear is a series of CDs specifically designed to provide dogs with calming classical music.

If you take the steps to prepare ahead of time, you can alleviate your dog's stress and have a pleasant holiday weekend for everyone.

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