Many of us will be taking care of pets this weekend as customers travel for the forth of July. Most cities host fireworks and if you are in a rural area you may have friends and neighbors who launch fireworks in their backyard. If you have pets that are afraid of thunderstorms, the garbage truck, or other loud noises they will probably also be disturbed by the noise of the fireworks.
My friend, Diana Guerrero is an animal behaviorist and gives the following tips for making 4th of July a safe and fun celebration for everyone and ensuring that you don’t reinforce negative responses in the pets.
“Pet lovers need to first understand that ‘comforting the pet, although done with good intentions, can actually reinforce the fear and panic.”
Diana L. Guerrero is an author and pet pioneer who shares over thirty years of revolutionary techniques and innovative services. She publishes ARKANIMALS.COM and is an international columnist on animal behavior and training. She writes for animalsnet.com, a animals only search engine (scheduled to launch in August) and many others magazines and journals.
She explained that “training by accident” often escalates pet problems and suggests pet owners verbally reassure their pets. Voice communication does not reinforce the fear like cuddling, petting, holding, and trying to physically relieve the stress does.
The age of your pet, socialization, experience, and breed can also influence their reactions. Animals with an established history of problems will likely worsen. Elderly animals may get better simply because they lose their hearing.
Animal are fine-tuned for survival and their senses are distinctly more acute than humans. Smells, rumbles and sudden bursts of light can illicit escalated reactions in pets.” Guerrero explained.
There are ways to work through noise phobia exhibited before earthquakes, during thunderstorms and throughout firework displays, but it takes time and preplanning. In the meantime use some quick tips and tools to address the problem behavior, which escalates annually during the Fourth of July holiday.
Diana suggests the following:
· Keep your animals inside during July 4th and for a few days to a week prior to the holiday.
· Make sure you have a tag with current information on your pet during this time.
· If you take your animal outside for toileting or any other activity, make sure they are under physical restraint via a collar and leash.
· Leave your pets safely at home instead of taking them to picnics or other holiday events.
· Play music or turn on a radio station with soothing music to help mask outside noises.
· Buy a plug-in Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) dispenser. This permeates the air with a calming scent and reduces fear and anxiety.
· Keep your pet busy with activities or chew items before the height of noise making occurs.
· Visit your veterinary medical professional and ask for melatonin. This oral neurohormone often provides help for sensitive animals. Use with the veterinarians dosage recommendation and dont try to do it yourself.
· Flower remedies work on an energetic level. Five Flower® or Rescue Remedy® mixes may help reduce your pets anxiety.
· Create a safe haven. If your animal is habituated to a crate you may want to provide access for security. Other options include the bathroom, laundry room, garage, basement, or any other den area. The room to choose is one where there are no windows to jump through, or where windows can be blocked off and are too high and narrow to access.
· Some animals want to hide and will feel safe in a favorite spot, like under the bed. You can create sleeping bag tunnel or similar option for them.
· Plan a party and play instead of participating in other events. Making new traditions can be fun and helpful for your pet.
Pet owners should always check with their veterinarian or behavior specialist before using any drugs or tranquilizers. They should also watch guests–since an open door can provide an opportunity for animals to bolt outside.” She said.
Use simple steps to get you through the crisis. If your pet has noise phobia problems you should start your behavior modification problem right after this holiday.”
You can check out more of Diana’s great pet behavior tips at her blog http://www.arkanimals.com.