July 1st, 2016
By Laurel Meleski, RedRover Program Coordinator II
Some pets are able to take fireworks in their stride. They can watch the displays with their families and remain calm, simply happy being with their people. Then there are dogs like my Bob. When fireworks go off, Bob believes that the world is coming to an end — and that the only thing to do is climb onto my lap to shake and pant uncontrollably until the end comes. Thankfully, I’ve found a few different ways over the years to help my little buddy deal with this stressful time of year.
I’ve made the choice to stay home with my pets on the 4th of July. Both of my dogs are fearful, but they react very differently to the stress, so my being there helps them both feel a greater sense of calm and safety.
A few years ago I came across the “dog appeasing pheromone” products. They come in a few different delivery methods, but the collar seemed the best choice for my family. They’ve been a game changer for us. While Bob is still extremely frightened when the actual fireworks are going off, he is now able to calm down a bit in between explosions, which he couldn’t do before. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this product, but it’s worked great for us.
Another method to try calming a fearful dog is body wrapping. You can research TTouch body wrapping or look into a calming device like the Anxiety Wrap or the ThunderShirt. All of these options apply gentle pressure to a dog’s torso, similar to swaddling an infant, and that pressure helps to keep them calm. I’ve tried body wrapping, and the combination of pressure and the pheromone collar have helped my Bob feel even more relaxed and secure during this otherwise stressful time. If using a simple body wrap, be sure to not leave your dog unattended.
I’ve also found that making a “hidey hole” can help my dogs feel safe. I discovered this during a thunderstorm and it’s worked during fireworks as well. I create a small, dark space by using a kennel (or even a laundry basket turned on its side), fill it with pillows and/or a dog bed and cover it with a blanket. Bob used to pace and hunt for a place he could feel safe, but now he heads straight to his “thunder hut.”
Having multiple options for assistance, plus making sure that I’ll be home on the 4th of July, has really helped my frightened little guy. What solutions do you have for frightened pets during fireworks?