Written by Jennifer Brown, Founder and President of VSAS.
It’s summertime again and with that, lots of fun to be had with your furry friend; camping, hiking, family picnics or even the beach.
However this season also brings many other types of situations, from heat waves to fireworks to summer storms.
We’ve been told time and time again about the dangers of leaving your pet in the car for only a few minutes and it is always a worthwhile reminder. But what can be done about the other happenings that we DON’T have control over?
Fireworks, thunder storms and anxiety-inducing noises can be extremely traumatic for pets and as a result, upsetting for their humans. No one ever wants to see their dog trembling uncontrollably or whining in fear.
Although it isn’t a foregone conclusion that every pet will have this type of reaction to loud noises, it is more prevalent than you might think. It is thought that pets exposed to loud noises during early development (months 1-4), grow up far more desensitized to it. Whereas, limited or no exposure during that time generally leads to a fear-based response.
Dogs can also sense a change in the barometric pressure so before a storm even hits, you could witness your pet displaying signs of anxiety.
As opposed to sedative drugs, there are some activities that you could try that may help lessen your dog’s negative response when the thunder/lightening/rain hit.
- Create a sound buffer with the radio and/or TV to lessen the shocking crash of thunder.
- Create a safe space for your pet to go to, preferably one without windows, as the sounds will be more muffled.
- Start training exercises with them before the storm comes to distract them from being storm focused.
- Stay calm. Dogs are pack animals and if they have a calm, strong leader of the pack, that will help reduce their anxiety.
- Try homeopathic. There are many great calming collars, thunder shirts, chamomile candles, lavender oils (for paws) and nutraceuticals for ingestion that can help keep them in a calmer state.
- Do not reinforce behavior in your pet that you don’t want them to repeat. It’s completely normal to want to hold and console them when they are upset but it’s best to reinforce the behavior that you do want them to display.
- Do not punish a dog for being scared. They won’t make the association and so you will only cause your pet to become afraid of you as well. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Remember to be patient with your pet. If you have plans to bring them somewhere where there will be fireworks, know your pets’ response in advance and plan accordingly. Leave them home if you can with the noise buffers, safe space and treats or with friends/relatives who will be there with them. It’s incredibly stressful for your pet so do your best to help them through it.
Have a safe and happy summer season,
Jennifer Brown, President VSAS
For more information, please see www.care.com