6 Ways To Prepare Your Pooch For Fireworks And Thunderstorms
Here are six easy ways you can ease your distressed pet.
#1 Educate your neighbours about the negative effects of firecrackers
Let your neighbours and the neighbourhood children know about the ill effects of bursting firecrackers. Apart from the noise that causes dogs to panic, the air pollution causes breathing problems, wheezing and tightness in the chest in humans, so can you imagine the damage it causes dogs. The debris from firecrackers contains poisonous chemicals that can be toxic for strays. Of course, this probably won’t convince everyone to stop bursting firecrackers entirely, but it might make the festive season more pleasant for everyone.
#2 Create a safe space for your pooch to hide
When the firecracker or thunderstorm sounds are at their peak, your dog will probably want to hide behind or under furniture. Make their safe space a little more comfortable with soft towels, clothes that smell of their favourite person, a water bowl, some of their favourite food or treats (especially chewy treats) and toys that they love. It’s important to ensure your dog drinks liquids because panting and drooling are normal symptoms of stress but can cause your dog to lose a lot of hydration. To ensure they don’t need to move from their safe space, walk them before the firecrackers begin. Play ‘white noise’ nearby so that these sounds that scare dogs don’t become the focus of their attention. And of course, you should be near them, comforting them in a low, slow, loving voice and petting them with long, slow strokes to help relax them even further.
#3 Explore alternative therapies
A very simple and accessible technique that has helped millions of pet parents around the globe is using a body wrap on their dog’s torso, or you can opt for a specially designed anxiety vest. Don’t forget to calm yourself down too, because your pup will pick up on your anxiety and that will stress them out.
#4 Desensitize your puppy
What if we told you that playing sounds that scare dogs will actually help your dog? Indeed, as insane as it seems, that is the cornerstone of formulating a thunderstorm or firework counter-conditioning program. Play rain and thunder sounds, or the sound of firecrackers initially at a low volume while you do your normal chores and give them extra special treats when they’re calm and relaxed. When you find that they don’t consider the sounds worrisome, increase the volume a bit. Keep doing this till your dog can tackle the sounds that trigger them without panicking. It’s a delicate balance, but the aim is always to get just a toe over the comfort zone; too much will terrify your dog and too little won’t help them face their fear and grow.
#5 Consult your vet
If your pooch develops a serious phobia, you can speak to your veterinarian about medications that help with anxiety or stress caused due to predictable events like thunderstorms and the use of firecrackers. However, you should always make sure to administer these medications only if your veterinarian recommends or advises them.
#6 Prepare for the worst
Despite all these measures to prepare them for thunderstorms and festivals, your dog may still be stressed out during these times. As their parent, you need to do all you can to prepare for emergencies. Put your name and contact details on a tag on your dog’s collar and keep that on them at all times so that even if they accidentally run in panic, a rescuer can reach out to you. Even if they’re at home, being startled by the sound may cause them to hurt themselves by jumping irrationally or bruising themselves trying to squeeze into a safe space. In that case, save your vet’s number on each family member’s phone so they can reach out to them in an emergency. Track your puppy’s food and water intake and learn to spot the early signs of dehydration.
Start preparing for the inevitable thunderstorms and fireworks today to make the festive season or the monsoon much more bearable for your puppy. They’re counting on you to keep them safe and happy, and as parents, it’s our job to help them face their fear without being overwhelmed by it.