Celebrating Your Dog's Peace of Mind During Holiday Fireworks
Pets Don't Have Holidays
It's easy for humans to forget that pets don't have weekends. Their's is a 24/7 job. While they continue to surprise us with what they know - and learn - loud noises, flashing lights and frantic neighbors can signal danger and imminent harm.
Smart humans combat this with intelligent planning and pragmatic responses.
Practice Daily Intervals of Quiet, "You and Me" Time
You would be surprised how many dogs need to learn how to just sit next to you and schmooze peacefully. In my SPCA volunteer days, I used to practice regular command sequences of "sit," "down," and "stay," to get dogs used to the idea. This kind of practice will pay off later, not only for fireworks, but also living rooms with scampering rugrats, popular neighborhood coffee houses, and any distracting environment where a dog needs help to "get centered."
Establish Toys and Things That Provide Comfort
An old favorite for new puppies used to be a fluffy pillow with a loud timepiece inside (the ticking recalled mom's heartbeat). As dogs get older, try a stuffed animal or one of dad's old flannel shirts.
Know Where and When Fireworks Are Scheduled.
An easy place to start is your computer. Try a Google search that asks: "Where are fireworks in [your city, town, neighborhood]?" From there, try clicking on listed locations to learn start times. Opinions vary as to how far away fireworks can be heard. They include factors such as humidity, air pressure and wind velocity. Count on at least a mile, maybe as far away as 13 miles.
Make Tonight an Indoor Night
Keeping your dog indoors when fireworks are scheduled will eliminate the all-important "where to hide" problem. Otherwise, you may be in for a live episode of "Where's Waldo" later that night or tomorrow.
Resist outside noise with inside ambiance.
Dogs absolutely love Haydn and Mozart. If classical isn't your favorite, consider '80s recordings from Brian Eno's Ambient. Otherwise, explore the assortment of meditation-oriented videos available on YouTube.
Keep Yourself and Other Household Humans Calm and Confident
Part of being the boss is knowing when all eyes are on you to set the tone. When you don't, the message to your dog is "the gods must be angry."
If Scared Behavior Persists, Talk to Your Vet
Sometimes, additional planning and strategy are needed to address a continuing anxiety problem - particularly with an adopted pet, who might have come from a problem environment. Possible remedies include a practice regimen using Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" or a CD full of "Jock Jams." Specific soundtrack recordings are also available online or perhaps at your local library. Someone on your local vet or animal shelter staff should have some ideas.
Remember: Your dog's peace of mind depends on your own accurate knowledge and sensible planning.