Every year on the 4th of July, as all of America celebrates our independence, our four-legged family members experience one of the most stress inducing days of the year.
The great majority of dogs are very sensitive to the explosions of fireworks used to celebrate the day as well as the thunderstorms that are prevalent this time of year. From the smallest firecracker to the loudest pyrotechnic explosion or thunderstorm, their enhanced hearing is especially sensitive to each blast. The reaction can run the gamut from excessive barking, agitation, fear and many other emotional and physical responses. The good news is that we can do a lot to help them get through the day and night, as well as any other event or situation (like block parties and other civic events) where fireworks, loud music or noise-inducing weather event may be present.
The first, and probably the easiest, is to produce white noise that offers a soothing deterrent inside the home to the noise from outside. For people with air conditioners (the wall or window units work best as central air is much quieter), running the air conditioner during the period of intense firework activity will provide your dogs with a buffer to the loud explosions. Most dogs, upon sensing this will stay as close as possible to the air conditioner as it is a comforting sound that blocks out the blasts. Another option is to purchase a white noise machine (found on Amazon and some larger retailers such as Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond) will allow you to set up an area of comfort for your pet. If any of these can be located in an available basement area, the effects are increased due to the natural sound buffering effects of the earth and cement around the basement area.
An option to the white noise machine would be to purchase a white noise CD or downloading MP3s specifically designed to help you canine friend deal with the explosive nature of the day. We recommend visiting the website http://throughadogsear.com/ where you can purchase and download MP3s or sound and music designed to help your dog cope. CDs and a special white noise machine called iCalmDog can also be purchased. All of these options consist of music specially selected to help dogs of varying ages (you can choose based on your dog’s age as well as for various stress and anxiety inducing events like thunderstorms, the arrival of a new baby, separation anxiety and more.
Other options that are growing in popularity are items meant to sooth your dog without creating more noise. A product called the Thundershirt (http://www.thundershirt.com/ ) is a garment that is designed, by applying gentle pressure that simulates the feeling of being held, to reduce anxiety in dogs. They also offer a selection of similar products for cats as well. Another excellent set of products are herbal-based canine calming sprays. These use essential oils to create a mist that you spray on your fingertips so that you can gently massage the oils onto the outer ears or abdomen of your dog. Among the best of these is Earth Heart Canine Calm which is available through Amazon or at their website at http://www.earthheartinc.com/Canine_Calm.html .
Finally, there is a natural product called Rescue Remedy. This is a liquid that you would place a few drops on a treat and give to your dog.
All of these suggestions can be used together to get the desired effect. Practice with your dog BEFORE the storm or the 4th of July to teach your dog to relax when the Thundershirt goes on or they smell the spray. If you begin in a quiet calm setting and condition your dog to relax during this routine, your dog will have an easier time relaxing when needed.