Spring and Summer brings loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms which often trigger a fearful reaction in pets. Some pets express fear by being destructive, excessive barking, or other anxious behavior such as cowering, drooling, or shaking. To alleviate the stress, consider some of these tips.
Provide a Safe Spot
A closet or a crate, is good for dogs and cats to use as a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away. It can provide a safe and secure feeling, much like a den. A crate is more effective if your pet has grown up using a crate since they were young.
Divert Their Attention
Sometimes, all a dog needs to overcome his fear is to have his attention diverted elsewhere. “If a dog is frightened, get him engaged in a fun game of fetch, give him a phenomenal food-stuffed toy or bone, or get a handful of treats and ask him to perform all his tricks,” suggests Dr. Lisa Radosta, a veterinary behaviorist from Royal Palm Beach, Florida. “And get happy and excited yourself. It works wonders.”
Offer a Mother’s Comfort
Many fearful dogs calm down when their owner uses a product with dog appeasing pheromone (DAP). The DAP, which is similar to the pheromone released by mother dogs nursing their puppies. These pheromone releasing products come in a variety of forms such as a diffuser, a collar and a spray.
Wrap Them Up
Some dogs may respond to products such as The Thundershirt or The Anxiety Wrap, a form-fitting fabric wrap that applies pressure to various areas of the dog’s body. Use of the wrap may create “biofeedback slowing down the heart and therefore the animal feels less anxious,” speculates Levine. “Or the wrap may be hitting certain pressure points that, when firmly touched, helps to calm the animal, much like wrapping a crying baby in a blanket.” Experts suggest that you acclimate your dog to the wrap before using it to calm your dog during a storm.
Drown it Out
If you’re going to be leaving the house to watch a fireworks display — or if thunderstorms are in the weather forecast create a background noise such as a radio or TV, or use a white noisemaker. Drawing the shades to hide any lightning or fireworks is also good idea.
Experts agree that coddling or attempting to comfort your stressed dog is not a good idea. “The change in the owner’s behavior from normal only makes the dog think there really is something to worry about,” warns Haug. “The owner should interact with the dog in as normal a manner as possible.”
If your efforts at home don’t seem to reduce your dog’s stress, seek help. Reach out to your veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication for very severe or intractable noise anxiety. After evaluating the dog’s behavior, the veterinarian can develop a comprehensive program to address the dog’s thunderstorm, fireworks or noise anxiety, and any other issues they may have.