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Helping Your Pet with Fireworks-Phobia

July 1, 2014 - Amy Hanna-Eckenrode
With each passing year I find more things I cannot explain. Oh, how I wish for the distorted wisdom of youth.

Nearing the top of that list of unexplainable questions is what makes people tick. Ok, I know, that's a loaded statement therefore let me simplify. I would like to know what makes people enjoy certain destructive activities such as setting off window-shattering M-80s, cherry bombs, etc. near their home, neighbors and families. In fact, why at all?

It's almost the 4th. Of July. A day (week) I've come to dread over the past 14 years more than any other and I'm still trying to grasp the entertainment value of an object that produces nothing but an ear-shattering boom, rattles windows, can take off fingers (wishful thinking, I am) and could harm those around them (on a serious note).

According to Amy Shojai's article, “Scary Noises: Fireworks & Thunder Fears? How to Solve Noise Phobias with 11 Easy Tips”, up to 20 percent of dogs suffer from noise phobias (thanks to (FB) for sharing this). My personal record has not been as winning. I'm currently 2 for 3 (at the moment) as our 5ish-year-old rescue, Hope, and 14 year-old rescue, Milo, hate, hate, hate fireworks, thunder, and lightning. (I think that puts me at 66% but I'm no math major.) Milo even hates rain or the threat of rain. Sensing its arrival long before my sinuses even, he begins to pace, pant and hug our sides. As all pet owners who face the same know, it's the most helpless feeling.

Oakley, our 7-year-old Golden galoot, is more afraid of plastic store bags... but, we'll save that for another day.

Our neighbors started “testing” their stockpile last week . It's given me quite the refresher as to what we'll endure come July 4. Not to mention the entire weekend since the holiday falls on a Friday this year. And, quite possibly the week after depending on the size of the arsenals built by the budding Vin Diesel wanna-be's. (or whoever the actor is that blows things up).

All I know is that I'll resort to my own stockpile – of tricks, that is, including turning on every light, radio, TV, fan and air conditioner. I'll spray calming lavender scent throughout the house. I'll sing and dance as I talk in the most upbeat, confident voice I can, telling the dogs and 2 of our 6 cats, BoBo and Odilia, (much better odds) 'not to be silly' and that they 'are just fine' (as I conjure up silent, evil plots in my head of ways to torture the offenders.) And, I'm sure I'll be awake most of the night, sitting up with the pets in a barricaded house that will emanate more light than most of the fireworks displays themselves.

If you have tricks you successfully use with your firework-phobia pets, please share! I'll be awake. Here's to quiet nights filled with restful sleep and happy pets. <3


Article Comments



Jul-04-14 9:14 AM

When my dog Rocky was a puppy, I would take him to the shotgun range. We would slowly move from far away in the parking lot (where the noise was little) until we were finally seated behind the people shooting clay pigeons (where it was very loud). He became acclimated to the noises and booms and deals fairly well with them. This helps him deal with the noise from the firecrackers whether in the house or in the backyard.

Also, I think that many animals read the reactions of their owners, how they respond to certain situations, and whether they are fearful.

Might I suggest that you take your pet for a walk on a leash and gradually approach the local fireworks display. I am not suggesting that you get so close that it hurt their ears but at least a comfortable distance so they can see that you are not afraid of it also. Good luck.


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