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Fourth of July: Party or Panic for Your Dog?

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Fourth of July: Party or Panic for your Dog?

Many dog owners experience the chaos that is the fourth of July with their dogs. While there are certainly dogs that are sensitive to trains, thunderstorms and other sounds, even the calmest of dogs can experience distress or anxiety over the sound of fireworks (especially if they are being shot off at the neighbors house!).

Different dogs react differently to these sounds depending on their personal stress level. Some will shiver and shake, some will bark or howl and some can become destructive or even try to escape the home or yard if left alone.

So how can you help your pet cope with his fear?

1. Distract them: Get out some yummy treats and start putting them through their paces on their basic obedience commands. Sit, down, stay, high five, shake etc… By asking them to do something you are distracting them from the scary sounds. They can also begin associate the sound with something good happening (when I hear that sound I get treats!). Now this works best if they are hungry so plan ahead. Maybe skip their dinner and that way by the time the fireworks begin your dog will be hungry and if you use something really yummy(think tiny pieces of cut up hotdogs) they will be motivated to follow the commands. This may not work with a highly agitated dog. If they don’t take the food you may need to find something of higher value (cheese, lunch meat, special treats).

Resist the urge to pet your dog or talk to them in a soothing tone when they are in a frightened state of mind. You think you are calming them but they think you are saying you like it when they are afraid.

2. Exercise your dog: By taking your dog for a good long walk before the fireworks you have done two things, you have burnt off some excess energy and your dog has gotten a good dose of endorphins (feel good, calming chemicals, ahhhhhh). This can greatly reduce the anxiety your dog feels. If they are pooped out from walking and they are relaxed enough they may even sleep through the event.

3. Tellington Touch: TTouch as it is known is a simple to learn process of moving the skin over the muscles in circular touches in a clockwise motion all over your dog’s body. There are 12 different touches that help relax your dog and can help fully activate their parasympathetic system. Here is a link to videos explaining the Tellington Touch aka TTouch system…

4. Products: There a several good products out there that help reduce anxiety and that many people swear by. Thundershirts are compression garments for your dog or cat. From their website “we found that simple pressure helped with a multitude of pet anxieties including separation, travel, vet visits and much more. Our proprietary research also uncovered that over 30% of pets suffer from one or more of these anxieties making anxiety one of the leading issues for today’s pet parents.”

There are also sprays, treats and supplements like COMPOSURE Bite-Sized Chews which are for dogs exhibiting nervousness, hyperactivity, anxiety or responding to environmentally induced stress. It is an advanced formula that contains a combination of factors, not found in other calming formulas that support balanced behavior. ComposureTM helps alleviate stress-related behavior problems without affecting your animal’s personality or energy level. It can be used daily or when extra help to relax is needed.

5. Talk to your veterinarian: If all else fails, talk to your vet to see if medication is in order. The main thing to remember is that your dog does not like feeling nervous, anxious and stressed. And that when they are their body is being flooded with some pretty toxic chemicals which in the long term can be damaging to their body. Here is a great article in regards to how stress affects a dog’s body…

There are many options for helping your dog overcome stressful events. Do your research, talk to your vet, dog trainer, pet sitter and other dog owners and take action so your dog can live a longer, happier, healthier life.

Terie Hansen-Professional Dog Trainer, Dog Walker, Pet Sitter

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