It’s Independence Day of 2020. I wish I could just tell owners to practice safe distancing and celebrate in your home with your own dog. Sounds fun, right? One problem with that idea is we have literarily been doing just that for the last several months due to COVID19. To many, I understand the phrase “stay safe and stay inside” may now be a trigger that stimulates frustration. So, my new phrase is simply “Be considerate of those around you.” Just as we spread love and understanding for our human companions, we need to spread the same form of love and understanding for our dog companions too.
According to a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, “45 percent of dogs have a fireworks phobia” In fact, one of the busiest days for shelters is July 4th. Due to an increase with dogs getting overwhelmed of all the celebratory booms in the sky and flashing lights they end up escaping from the backyard. Let’s not forget the houses themselves that get destroyed due to the sudden increase in fear.
Animal behaviorist, Corey Cohen, writes in his blog Path of Friendship “When our dogs are exposed to sudden loud sounds, there is a release of adrenaline and an increase of the hormone cortisol, as well as changes to their amygdala, hippocampus, and parts of the frontal cortex of their brain,” Cohen says. “In other words, brains change as a result of loud, anxiety-producing noise. Our dogs are especially vulnerable to this effect during the summer months when thunderstorms prevail and during Fourth of July celebrations, where fireworks are set off in some neighborhoods all day and night.”
There are many resources out there that may help your dog feel comfortable. Anxiety wraps may help the dogs feel secure and soothing music may drown out the sound of the fireworks. Proper use of CPD oil and essential oils, like lavender, could ease stressful behaviors without the use of medication. Much more, deliciously cooked and dog-approved food prior to the start of the firework show may help counter condition and distract which can help change a dog’s emotional state and thereby change the dog’s outward behavior.
But the main resource to use is yourself! Here are three action opportunities that you can start doing now that would push for a tremendous effect on those dogs around our community:
Become an Advocate: For a lot of owners, we usually aren’t aware that there could be a problem until there actually is one. Talk to other pet parents about the available resources on the market that could potentially save their dog’s life. As well as letting them know that a collar and tag or a microchip could reinforce finding their dog in case it runs away. If you know of an owner that is staying home, they may be interested in learning how to positively condition their pets to fireworks. Training must start taking place now. This will set the pet parent up to be proactive instead of reactive.
Become a Dog Sitter: It is not uncommon for people to have plans for July 4th. If you don’t have a dog at home and would like to be of service, dog sitting may be the way to go while also earning you cash on the side. The power of touch for a domesticated dog is essential. When a dog is in a state of confusion or worry, they often look for guidance from their human owner. Sometimes being that warm body would make the phenomenal difference. Don’t force your hugs on the dog, instead make it available if needed.
As a dog sitter, be sure to get the dog’s medical records (vet information), parent’s emergency information, and contact to a certified trainer if needed. Equip yourself with basic knowledge of dog communication to help direct you for this event.
Become a Shelter Volunteer: It was just last year when the news broke that several people were arriving to help shelter dogs. There is a power in numbers here and can be a great family activity of people who just want to be of service. Some people sat and read to the dogs while others sang to them or provided them with delicious treats.
“Many participants developed lasting relationships with the shelter, returning to provide foster care, adopt a pet or volunteer,” the MCACC wrote. “After last year’s success, the shelter has put together some pointers for other shelters who could start Calm the Canines events of their own. For example, people are asked to bring blankets to sit on, or folding chairs, and to let the dog or cat approach them to sit calmly and quietly.
“This year, shelter staff expect that even more meaningful connections will be made and kindness will be spread to individuals who need it — and that’s truly something to celebrate.”
Whatever action step lights you on fire, is where you’ll make the biggest impact this 4th of July. Lastly, encourage more people to spring into action by sharing this blog. For more helpful tips, feel free to reach out to Venture Dog Training at firstname.lastname@example.org.