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Mon Jul 02, 2012 posted by Gordi
4th of July... AGAIN!!!
It's time for our annual lecture about keeping your pets safe, secure, and un-stressed during the LOUD 4th of July celebrations!!!
What better way to celebrate the holidays than to gather with friends, family and all the Fidos for an annual 4th of July B-B-Q??? South Florida is unique in that it's tradition in our communities to see "packs" gather in back yards, state parks, and beach-side, outfitted with all the essentials, grills loaded with franks, and burgers, along side coolers full of beer, and chips. Let's not forget the savory toppings either. While dads are grilling and moms are prepping the picnic table, us kids (of all ages) will be chasing Fido around the yard, jumping, fetching and frisbee-ing until night fall.
But alas... what HORRORS come with nightfall, at least for some of our fur-babies??? FIREWORKS!!!
Pet anxiety related to holiday fireworks is a common issue, an issue that believe-it-or-not is the number one reason why pet rescue centers find a 30% increase in the numbers of lost pets during these times. While Memorial Day, July 4th and New Years Eve have the highest incidents of disappearing pups, Labor Day and other holidays that fall in the month of December are not far behind. Preparing your pet for each anticipated holiday celebration is extremely important so that they can enjoy the festivities with family, rather than run from the scary noises. Here are some of the precautions that we can take:
Short Term Precautions
* Before heading to the park, make sure your dog is properly chipped. Many pet owners think that chipping a pet is cruel, but it can save a four-legged life in the event of getting lost during the holiday festivities. Most vets charge between $25 and $50 dollars and the chip is about the size of a grain of rice. The discomfort your pet may feel is short-lived and relatively painless.
* Ensure that you secure your pet with a well-fitting, snug collar. Be sure that the tag contains name, address and current telephone number. Listing your vets telephone number is also a good idea. PetSmart now offers a laser tag engraving machine that engraves both sides of the tag so there is plenty of space for lots of information. Or you can get one of our favorite things the PetQRTag.
* Once the fireworks begin to fly, try and bring your pet to a quiet, secure area where they will feel comfortable. If this is not possible, try and keep them on leash by your side. Rather than providing comfort and companionship to help them through the events that take place, try and distract them with play or toys so you can desensitized them to the noise.
* NEVER leave your dog outside in the yard where they could get frightened and run away.
* NEVER let your dog run off leash in the park during any firework event.
Long Term Precautions and Conditioning
Your dog may demonstrate any number of anxiety symptoms as a result of firework or any other event bringing loud noise. From shaking/cowering, to hiding or shivering at your heel, to running away. The best way to avoid these terrible scenarios is to condition your pet from the start. This conditioning is a long term process and commitment that will allow them to feel completely comfortable with these noises. We do this by:
(1) slowly exposing them to these event over time and under supervision and...
(2) creating “pleasurable experiences” for our dog during these events.
* During a thunderstorm or a fireworks celebration, expose your dog to the noise while distracting them with play. Fetch and frisbee are among my favorites. But if that doesn't work there is always a HorN Pets favorite the Thundershirt.
* Expose your dog to the noise while simultaneously proving them with the treat-of-choice that holds most value to them. Mmm, a nice juicy hunk of bacon usually works for my pups.
* Use Tellington Touch techniques, a technique that stimulates cellular movements in the body via touch and massage. (1) take a t-shirt (2) put your dogs front legs through the arm holes (3) pull/wrap the loose part of the shirt tight around the waste (4) tie the loose material into a knot, rested behind your dogs back. This touch technique is believed to provide comfort to your dog during times where anxiety can be high.
The purpose of the above is to distract your dog during the event so that they become comfortable with the surrounding noises. Rather cower, they will play during the noise both with and without you. Some pet owners try and stroke, pet, hold, cuddle their dogs thinking that it will provide comfort. This action will only worsen the anxiety because your dog will develop a dependency on petting and your presence during stressful situations.
Most important: Remember that your dog will mimic the energy and confidence that you provide. That is why it is extremely important that during the firework events and thunderstorms that you remain confident and ‘unbothered’ by the display. Follow these tips and stay safe during this beautiful 4th of July weekend.
Eat... Drink... & Be Merry!!!