Managing Your Dogs July 4th Fears

Many dog owners seek practical advice for managing their pets’ terrified reactions to Independence Day’s ear-piercing, often incessant sounds of neighborhood fireworks.

Many dogs find the extremely loud and unpredictable sound of fireworks an inevitable part of the American celebration of the July Fourth holiday. Here are some helpful hints.

Your dog’s hearing is acute, especially the highs that humans cannot hear. (Think high pitched dog whistles– or “Whistling Petes.”)

In this situation, you will truly realize the value of crate training. During the Fourth of July holiday weekend, your dog may appreciate a haven into which he or she can retreat– with a chewy toy or treat. Prevention really is best. If you can start when he or she is a puppy, then you won’t frantically look for ways to fix the problem.

Here’s a prescription for a serene and IQ-enhancing July Fourth for your canine pal:

Place your dog(s) in his/their respective crates in the room with stereo speakers. And play a continuous loop of CD of Mozart, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, excerpts from The Jupiter Symphony (Symphony No. 41 in C Major), and other assorted snippets from Wolfgang Amadeus.

Other possible choices:

 Brahms' Lullaby.
 Any John Phillip Sousa march, such as Stars and Stripes.
 Bach's Brandenburg Concerti. Any.
 Pachelbel's Canon in D Major -- It could have a hypnotic effect on your dog-- especially if played ad infinitum. If you aren't totally sick of it or haven't attended too many weddings lately, this may be the ticket.
 Wagner's operas should drown out any noise from outside.
 To complement the holiday's American theme, how about Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring or Billy, the Kid? Although the percussion in Fanfare for the Common Man can be as jarring as a firecracker, turning down the volume might work just fine.
 Anything by P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele), except maybe for his "Safe" Sextet or Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle, and Balloons. (Okay. I am kidding.)

You can get streaming audio on your computer, so take advantage of that. Try to find a radio station that plays only classical music. This is the first level of staving off this problem.

When Music Doesn’t Cut It:

Some people have reported having had success with such over-the-counter homeopathic or Bach Flower remedies as Rescue Remedy or Pet Calm Forte or a number of other herbal products that claim to have a sedative effect on anxious pets, which you can buy online or at your local outlets for natural foods and herbs. Your local grocery store may even carry these products.

1. Benadryl may make your dog just drowsy enough. Figure a milligram per pound. One children's chewable is 12.5 mg-- perfect for a 12 or 13-pound dog.
2. In cases of truly wigged-out dogs, you may be able to obtain anti-anxiolytic medications. If prescribed by your vet, follow dosage carefully and administer before the onset of the "festive" noises.
3. There are C.D.s and books available that are supposed to assist you in treating your sound-phobic canine.
4. Sounds Scary is a preventative sound therapy CD and not a "crash course," so it's something to consider for your frightened friend's first-- or subsequent Fourth.
5. No-Brainer Advice: Keep your dog indoors after pottying him or her before the pyrotechnics begin in earnest. Close any curtains and windows.
6. Take your dog to bed with you, where both of you can hide under the covers.
7. Know that This Too Shall Pass.