Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Fireworks are not for everyone!

It’s the time of year we show our patriotism and celebrate our country!  It’s the time of year our dogs think the world is ending!  It’s not just dogs, people are often sound sensitive. My childhood memories of July 4th are of my family going to watch the town’s firework display. Everyone would park in a field, get out blankets, chairs and picnic baskets to watch as the sky lit up with vibrant colors.  At the first explosion in the sky, I was wailing and trying to get back in the car to climb under the seat.  I know how dogs feel, the sudden loud noise is terrifying and then with each flash and bang my nerves were jangled that much more.  I overcame this as I got older because it wasn’t cool to scream and cry in front of my friends and I didn’t fit under the car’s seats anymore. My experience gave me empathy for our furry friends.

I had a friend whose dog would hide under the bed at the boom of guns or fireworks. Another friend’s dog dove for cover into his “bomb shelter,” the crate.  If your dog is crate trained, that might help. Susan Bennett, a client, friend, and local realtor said of her dog, “Izzy gets upset the moment she hears a firework and stays that way for a couple days. She won’t eat, she hides in the closet trembling.”  I’m worried for dogs like Izzy because revelers may start firing off the fireworks on Friday, June 30th and continue for the next 4 days through the 4th. That is a long time for terrified dogs.

The shelters are overloaded during holidays like the 4th of July because hysterical dogs break through windows and yard gates in an attempt to get away from the noise.  Then you will have to post bail for your dog when the shelter is open.  It might be a few days of boarding you will pay for.  To avoid this, a little knowledge is power.

Dogs can’t be calmed easily when in a state of fear.  Do you have a phobia?  Do you want someone telling you that your fear of spiders is silly when you are staring down a Daddy Longlegs? Dogs in fear will pant heavily, drool, have sweaty paws, be destructive to get out of doors, and possibly aggressive.  So what do you do for your frightened pup? Plan ahead a little—think about going on a vacation and taking your dog with you, visit your Veterinarian and discuss appropriate tranquilizers and options, play classical music or a white noise machine to drown out the cacophony outside.  Over the next year, you can employ a slow systematic desensitization process using thunder and loud noise cd. Your dog will habituate to the noises.

Even though I have gotten over my sound sensitivity through many years of exposure, many people have not. Fireworks can trigger anxiety attacks or reliving combat memories for veterans of war. According to abc news, in a 2012 report, 30% of the service personnel from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have PTSD. So for the sake of all sound sensitive beings—human and canine—stick to a celebration without the loud percussions.

If you don’t consider the 4th of July complete without fireworks, forego having noisy fireworks at home.  Your veteran neighbors and those who have dogs will thank you. Instead make sure your dog is safe, find a pet sitter for him, and attend your town’s centrally located fireworks display.

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