I volunteer with a few GSD and all breed rescues, mainly Noble Shepherd Rescue. I wrote this up for our volunteers and my rescue contacts, and wanted to post on the board as well.
Fireworks and Dogs Just Don’t Mix
July 4th is right around the corner so we wanted to remind everyone to make sure to keep their furry companions safe and secure. July 5th is the busiest day for animal control agencies across the United States because many dogs get loose, run away, etc… Sheer terror would be a good way to describe the way many dogs react to fireworks. Many dogs are also killed every year due to fireworks as well or rather due to irresponsible humans.
Some dogs get so stressed out that they can develop behavioral issues for days, even weeks after the festivities.
We also can not forget that a dogs’ sense of hearing is significantly stronger than ours. The loud noise from fireworks can hurt their ears as well as terrify them.
Signs that your dog is stressed:
- attention seeking
- escape behavior
- loss of house training
Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine says, ``Typically, the very severe reaction occurs when they are alone. ``
`` If they are alone they already feel terrible. If, in the midst of their misery, comes their worst nightmare, firecrackers or a thunderstorm, and you're a dog of this persuasion, a shrinking violet, you can get so distraught you will try to escape. You're not running to something, you're running from something. ``
Dogs can break teeth, he said, trying to escape a crate.
`` Once they're out they may try to excavate their way out of the house,'' he said, `` by throwing themselves out of a window, tearing through a fly screen and running down the road in the town. Sometimes they're hit by a car, sometimes they're lost.''
Below are some tips we gather to share with you. Please keep your dogs indoors and safe.
<span style="color: #FF0000">* Make sure all pets always are wearing well-fitted collars and securely fastened ID tags. Microchips and tattoos are great ID techniques, too. Even a back-firing car or shot in the woods can be enough to incite a dog to run off, so avoid taking any chances.
Never walk your dog while fireworks are being let off.
Keep your dog indoors; close the curtains and play music or turn on the television to drown out the noise.
Consider making a den with old blankets for your dog to hide away.
Ensure you are not enforcing your dogs nervous state by giving attention to its behavior…allow the dog to settle where it finds a secure place.
To further minimize distress; you can use a Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It is a synthetic version of a chemical produced by the mother shortly after she has given birth. The pheromone reassures newborn puppies and naturally calms them down. Scientists have discovered it also helps calm older dogs as well for a wide range of anxiety related behavior.
You can combine a DAP diffuser with a CD that you can use to gradually desensitize your dog to typical firework noises. This usually takes a few weeks to see a marked improvement; and is best carried out well in advance for optimum results.
A herbal remedy known as Scullcap & Valerian can also aid calming your dog; as can Bach’s Rescue Remedy.
If your dog is particularly prone to becoming very distressed; discuss sedatives with your vet; but do try the above first; as it is a drug free approach aimed at removing the root of the problem.
Nick Jones MCFBA
Dog Behavior Specialist and Trainer
<span style='font-size: 14pt'><span style="color: #FF0000">DO NOT:
- Let your dog go outside when fireworks are sounding, even if he shows no signs of stress.
- Exercise or walk him when fireworks are likely.
- Punish your dog for being frightened.
- Leave him alone during the firework period.
- Fuss or try and reassure your dog when he is frightened, as this rewards the fear behavior and will encourage him to repeat it.
- Take your dog to a firework display.
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