Posts Tagged ‘Independence Day’

Happy Hide Under the Bed Day!

Monday, July 1st, 2013

I love almost everything about Independence Day.


Almost.  I literally tear up every time I see, read about or hear about how rattled dogs become at this time of  year.


Some of it is straight out nervousness or fear – Dogs in general are very sensitive to sound and in general love routine.  This holiday is VERY loud and in Omaha follows an already loud storm season filled with pressure changes to which dogs are also very sensitive.  The loudness of fireworks is also unpredictable and random – which adds to the scariness for dogs.


Thank you Omaha for making the terrifying portion of the celebration legally longer than one day.  Think of the dogs when you pass legislation!!


Cats too become frightened – and much of this might apply to them, so take what you need and apply it to your poor scaredy cat too.  However, cats have been practicing all year for this time – if you have set up your home to be cat friendly – and I know you have – each cat has at least one high perch and one low hiding place to which to retreat if need be.


So that is noise fear.  Annoying, but manageable, yes?


Some dogs have noise phobia.  This is different.  Or maybe not.  It is more extreme.  It is the difference between someone preferring not to be around crowds or high in the air or ___ and a full blown shutting down crowd or height or ___ phobia.


Some dogs are not affected at all by the loud noises of storms and fireworks.  If that is your dog, now is the time to be thankful!  Some dogs – maybe most – are on a scale between unaffected and phobic – somewhat fearful of the noises associated with the holiday.


For those of you with dogs who ARE fearful this time of year, remember…

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You cannot ignore or scold your dog out of a phobia or use a phobic state as a training time or reason a dog out of a full on panic…You CAN and SHOULD love and comfort your dog through a hard time.

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You cannot start training, Thundershirts, music and medications on July 1 and expect them to be 100% effective…You CAN and SHOULD do all of these things anyways – at least the ones that seem to help.

Use the upcoming year to learn as much as you can so that next year storm season and Independence Day will at the worst be tolerable, and at best be boring or even enjoyable for you and your dogs.

You may already KNOW all the things, and it is just as good as it is going to be for  your dog.  Think how hard it would be if he or she did NOT have you!  You are doing a good job, and being near you and having you help them through firework season IS comforting.

Do not feel bad if you have not spent the past two months preparing for this week!  Dogs with phobias are often completely normal between episodes.  Often dogs with noise phobias have no panic attacks between July and July, thank goodness.

Here are some things that I hope will help NOW.  Feel free to add to the list!

Anti-anxiety medication – Call your vet and ask if this may be helpful for your pet.



DAP Spray – a calming pheromone spray for dogs – similar to Feliway for cats

Rescue Remedy

Calming music – I love Through a Dog’s Ear – Here is a free download from their website!

A quiet, safe, maybe dark place – a kennel, a small room, a comforting and familiar rug

Above all, keep your dog INSIDE or on a leash – July 4 is the number one day of the year for losing dogs.

Doggy ear muffs – Oh yeah, someone makes them.



More comfort


Puzzles, Kongs, toys

Here are links to things I have written before…with links to things OTHER PEOPLE have written before!

Scared on the Fourth of July

Getting Through the Fireworks

You know, there is nothing new under the sun…except when there is.  What I have learned this year that I did not know before is that using the month or two BEFORE you need a Thundershirt to work with your dog to associate it with happy times – called “coupling” – will make it tons more likely to be helpful, especially long term.  Thank you for that information Dr. Stokes!  I promise to remember that next May!

Thank you so much to friends Alicia Weiland and Janelle Van Riesen for letting me use these pictures of your beautiful pups!

Happy Fourth Everyone!  Let me know how all your brave and hoping-to-be-brave pets do!

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Fuzzy and Wuzzy Rats never struggled with phobias. They were not so much brave as oblivious to anything that was not edible or a toy.






What I am Doing This Week, Celebrating Independence Day

Monday, July 5th, 2010

July 5, 2010  As far as I know, all the pets in my life got through yesterday with just a little nervousness.  Great job pet parents!

PLEASE vote for Fuzzy and Wuzzy for cutest pet in Banfield’s Pet Photo contest!  Silly as it is, I LOVE pictures of our rats, and these ones are really cute.  The other pets entered are very cute too, and you can vote for as many as you want.  I voted for all of them, because, as you know, I have yet to meet a non-cute pet!

To vote:  Go to Banfield’s Facebook home page, and “like” Banfield.  Scroll down to Fuzzy and Wuzzy’s picture and “like” their picture.  Thank you so much!!  How fun.

July 17, 2010  Thank you everyone for voting for Fuzzy and Wuzzy!  They won third place!  Woo!  Not bad for a couple of ratties, huh?

What I am Doing This Week: Gathering! Restating! Linking! Helping! Publishing!

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

(If you don’t mind, imagine the next sentence fragments in the voice of Flint Lockwood, from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.  You know I LOVE to be boring, but sometimes I love to SEEM exciting, so I thought maybe that would help.   Thanks.)

Gathering!  Restating!  Linking!  Helping!  <running around the living room> <pushing big red button>  Publishing!

I know it’s been said, but I just wanted to make sure you and your pets have all the resources you need for this Independence Day!  So this week I am gathering and reposting information about storm and firework phobias.  Add any tips or resources you have!

Scared on the Fourth of July – Last Year’s Posting With an Update

Thunderphobia – Trainer Eric Goebelbecker’s Great Posting on Dr. V’s Pawcurious Website

Fourth of July Fireworks Safety Tips for Your Pets – brand new article from Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist

Thundershirts! – Too late to order them from the website for Sunday!  And as you know, yahoos in Omaha are already shooting off fireworks, so the poor dogs are already pretty worked up.

Nebraska Humane Society has some Thundershirts, but they are running low!  Quick, go push someone out of the way and grab theirs.  (Don’t really.)

Happy Independence Day! Make sure your pet is with you or safe at home this weekend.  Here’s to a safe and wonderful weekend for you and your family!  God Bless America!

Scared on the Fourth of July

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

May 31, 2010

Hi Friends!  At the end of this is my blog post from last Fourth of July-How helpful could it have been if it was published on THE day, after fireworks have been going off in Omaha for at least a week and our poor dogs had just suffered through storm season to boot?  So I took the post down, so I could come up with something MORE HELPFUL this year!  I hope that I have.  I have learned from some wonderful trainers and behaviorists* in the past eleven months, researched and obsessed.  It’s what I do! : )

I will submit an abrieviated set of tips to Shadow Lake Towne Center’s Pet Tip section for June, and post a link here.  I will also polish up this post a bit, so hopefully it will be of use to you this year.  As you think through how you will keep your pets happy this Fourth, so they can have at least as much fun as we do, here are some thoughts that I hope will help:

A tired dog is often a calm dog.  Spend the week BEFORE the Fourth of July exercising them well, long walks when it is cool out, play time with you, swimming, whatever it takes to get their nervous energy worked out as much as possible.

Consider investing a few bucks in a Thundershirt.  This one is new to me this year.  It is a snug-fitting vest-like thing that provides constant gentle pressure to your pet’s thorax.  I believe it works in the same way as acupressure or baby swaddling, though even the creators do not know for sure!  It is $36.00 through their website and reported to be over 85% effective in calming fearful dogs.

Work with a trainer or behaviorist on counter-conditioning and desensitization.  More on this later.  For now, suffice it to say you need to be very overprotective of your pet-do not use any methods that scare your pet, or put him or her in a panic situation of any kind.  Even if your trainer does not use the word “flooding” and even if he is super cute and has his own tv show, if you think your pet is not enjoying training, pick him up and run home.  Then call a trainer or behaviorist who works solely with up to date, humane, positive-reinforcement based training methods.

Medications (sedatives, tranquillizers and behavior medications) have a place in managing some phobias.  Work closely with your veterinarian to determine if medication may help.  Remember that some medications make your pet sleepy, but he or she may just have the appearance of calm, when in actuality they may be just as frightened without the capacity to respond to their fear.

This is not only new to me, but fairly new among behaviorists – It is OK to calm your fearful pet! It was previously believed that coddling would make a fear worse.  While you should try to maintain a calm attitude during a potentially scary situation, if your pet is reacting fearfully, do whatever it takes to calm them.  In a panic situation, your pet is not open to a training opportunity.  They are scared and in need of reassurance.  So go ahead and pick them up, pet them and tell them that it is going to be ok.

If you are with your pets, keep them close (preferably on leash) so that if they do panic, they stay physically safe.  If you are not with your pets, make sure they are in a safe, contained area.  A treat-filled Kong may keep a pet with mild fear issues distracted enough to ignore what would otherwise be scary.

Let’s spend this month interacting and coming up with plans together to keep all of our pets safe and fear-free for the Fourth of July!

Here is the post from July 4, 2009:

Here is my best advice for dogs today, especially for those who are fearful of fireworks.  This may also help throughout the stormy season.  Often storm and firework phobias go together….Take your dog on a long walk now while it is cool and before all the craziness starts, and they will hopefully be happy and tired tonight. Same idea behind tranquillizers and seditives only without the risks…And I don’t mean drugs can’t be used safely. Use them if you’ve got them (if you have your vet’s ok!)

On July 5, please give me an update on every storm/firework phobic dog! I always feel so sad for them on this day!  Before this season comes around again, I will post more comprehensive ideas on overall care of dogs with phobias.  It is a very difficult problem for owners, and so scary for pets, but manageable, and sometimes even preventable.  I will come along side you and help however I can.
Thank you!
Happy Independence Day!
God Bless America!

*Some of my favorite aforementioned trainers/behaviorists…





Nancy Freedman-Smith of Good Dogz Training
Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward
Debbie Jacobs of Fearful Dogs
Hilary Lane of Fang Shui Canines
June 15, 2010
Today Eric Goebelbecker of Dog Spelled Forward published a post, Thunderphobia, on Dr. V’s website, pawcurious, which, as you know is tied for my favorite veterinary blog in the world!!  Very good storm info, and good to know I am starting to keep pace a bit with the best of the best in behavior (or you know, at least being smart enough to read the stuff they write!)  Thank you Eric, and thank you Dr. V!