Fido & Fireworks: Advice from Your Brooklyn Dog Walker
In Brooklyn, most - but not all - dogs have learned to tune out loud noises like fire engines, ambulences and booming car radios. On July 4th pup is going to be faced with a different type of noise, fireworks, and might become mighty scared.
How much do fireworks upset dogs?
The statistic is that every year, the day that the most lost dogs are turned into shelters every year is July 5th. Having once rescued a terrified German shepherd who had gotten loose from his owner's boat while his people were off watching the display in the night sky, I can tell you that not only is the dog trembling in fear but the rescuer is at a loss what to do, especially realizing there are no support services late on a holiday night. When we found his owner, he told us that this was a retired police dog (which we tended to doubt, but it matters not) who lives on the boat with him all summer. He had no idea how his pup got out. In the face of fireworks terror, many a dog has become Houdini on the spot.
First, know your dog. My current dog, also a German shepherd, hardly looks up from her snooze to acknowledge the rocket's red glare. We even take her to the fireworks with us. My previous pups, also shepherds, trembled under the bed, in a bathtub or quivered in my lap.
Have you tried a Thunder Shirt? About half our clients who tried them reported success. The concept is like swaddling a baby. The pressure is reminiscent of the comfort of the womb, or so the theory goes. The experiment will cost you about $40 and you can pick one up at your local pet supply store or from Amazon.com.
If you stay home, your presence will be a comfort to pup and the call is yours. Whether you are around or not, you can do things to help your pup "not notice" the fireworks.
Well, you can try.
In the afternoon, take your dog to the park and get him as tired as possible. You know how you tune out when you're exhausted. Same with pup.
Feed him before the fireworks start. A terrified dog rarely will eat even his favorite treats. This way there won't be hunger to make pup feel even worse.
Turn up ambient noise that pup knows - air conditioner, stereo, TV, anything he is used to.
Next, close windows, curtains and blinds to muffle the sounds coming in.
If you are home when pup starts to quiver, offer him some of his favorite treat foods, things like cheese, bacon, roast beef. He is likely to turn away but you know with the smell of bacon in the air, pup is thinking about that and not concentrating entirely on the loud booms.
And when he finally tentatively takes a treat you know he is on the return to emotional normal.
Let's admit it, there are a bunch of things that dogs do that we find unsavory. This is one that we do that many dogs pretty much the way we do about their unmentionable behaviors.
But we will all get through. We will all get through and continue to love one another. Despite.