Reprinted via Valli Parthasarathy, PhD, DVM, ACVB Resident at Synergy Behavior Solutions
The fourth of July can be a time of celebration for many people, but it can also be a time of great fear for our pets. Here are some tips to make this Fourth as stress-free as possible for your pets.
Tip #1: Know what your pet's fear looks like. Fear of fireworks doesn't have to look dramatic. Many very fearful pets will quietly hide or shiver. Others will be more obvious, pacing, panting, vocalizing, or even becoming destructive or pottying in the house. The amount of obvious fear signs don't always correlate with actual fear. A hiding dog may be just as afraid as a panting and pacing dog. They just express that fear differently.
Tip #2: Create a Safe Space. Create a safe area for your pet to be during the fireworks. This can be wherever your pet is most comfortable. Two chairs with a blanket draped over them, a crate, a closet, the basement, or an interior room like a bathroom are some possibilities. Set up the area before fireworks start and do lots of positive things in the area. Feed your pet there, give interactive toys and just generally make it a nice place to be. Make sure that your pet has access to that safe area when the fireworks start.
Think about ways to decrease the sound level of fireworks within the home. Shutting all of the windows tight and running a white noise machine or loud fan can help muffle noises from outside. Mutt Muffs (www.safeandsoundpets.com) and Happy Hoodies (www.happyhoodie.com) are some options that can help reduce that sound level that your pet hears.
Tip #3: Practice Proactive Safety. In the days leading up to July 4th people are often shooting off fireworks. To keep your pets safe, don't allow your dog off-leash, and make sure that their collar or harness is snug so that they can't slip out of it. Potty your dog on leash before it gets dark on these nights, and again if needed after the fireworks are over. Dogs have even escaped fenced yards in their fear. Don't take your dog out during the fireworks themselves. Keep your cat indoors as well. . In fact, the 5th of July is often one of the busiest days for animal shelters as so many dogs become scared and run away from home during the fireworks.
Consider alternate ways to enrich your pet's environment since they may not be spending as much time outdoors. Some options include food puzzle toys, reward-based trick training or dog daycare if your dog is suitable. Keep in mind that there will probably be occasional fireworks after July 4th, so be prepared for that as well.
Tip #4: Avoiding is OK! Many pet owners leave Portland altogether and spend the July 4th weekend in more remote locations around the state. Other tips that clients have shared with us include: staying at a well sound-insulated hotel (such as near the airport) spending the evening in an underground parking garage, or taking a drive to and from Eugene with their pet to avoid the sounds of the fireworks. Our Fourth of July Hideaway is an option as well!
Tip #5: Medications can bring relief. If your pet is very scared during fireworks, speak to your veterinarian (or for Dr. Valli's clients, speak to her!) now about whether situational anti-anxiety medications are an option to help ease this time for your pet.
Fourth of July Hideway
Are you and your dog staying in town for the July 4th holiday? If your dog does not like fireworks, consider Synergy Behavior Solutions' Fourth of July Hideaway. Bring your dog and hang out for the evening in our quiet space and watch movies to boot!The last two years were a great time and they look forward to it again.