Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Does your dog shake and shiver or bark or hide during a thunderstorm or at the sound of fireworks? Perhaps your dog becomes destructive trying to escape the noise. Does your cat take off for the closet? Does your horse become anxious and pace around the paddock or bump against the stall? Here are some tips to help you to prevent or manage your pet's reactions to fireworks, thunderstorms and other loud noises.
1. Keep your pets safe and secure inside. Put the horses inside the barn where the noise can be limited. After a thunderstorm, the number of dogs that are picked up as a stray and taken to a shelter increases. If they are reactive do not try to keep them in a kennel outside. Also, be sure your pets are microchipped just in case of an escape.
2. Speak in a happy voice to your pets. Do not use a sympathetic, "Poor Baby" voice. Just use a happy tone. Your happy voice should be combined with fun activities.
3. Play with your pets or do some other activity that they like to do to distract them. Engage them in happy activities that will keep them from responding negatively to the noises and relate positive activities to the situation. Play catch; throw a ball or play with the cat toys.
3. Play music or the TV to cover the sounds. The noise inside will help to cover the outside noises.
4. Train your pet to not react to loud noises by playing recordings of fireworks or thunderstorms to get them used to the sounds. This is called desensitization. Start out with the sound being low. Play with them, talk happy and keep them distracted. If they remain calm, increase the volume and continue to follow this pattern until they completely ignore the noises. This requires advance work long before an event like Independence Day.
5. You can try other options such as wrapping them in something to snuggle, like a Thundershirt or wrap your cat into a "purrito" blanket and snuggle. You might want to try aroma therapy and even medications from your Veterinarian, but we highly recommend behavior modification, yours and the dog's first, because it is better to change the behavior rather than treat the symptoms.
1. Don't take or leave your pets outside during thunderstorms and don't take them to fireworks displays. Keep them in the home where the noises are muffled and it is best if you remain at home with them so that they are not alone until you know they will not be reactive.
2. Don't cuddle your dog and speak soothingly to it during the fireworks or thunderstorms. It is difficult to resist comforting your dog when they are distressed, but this will reinforce the anxious or bad behavior and their reactions to the loud noises. You can pet your dog and let them sit with you as you normally would, just don't hug and hold them while talking in a woeful tone.
3. Don't yell at them or try to command them to stop their anxious behavior. They will not understand what you are angry about and will most likely react even more anxious because you are stressing them out.
4. Don't shut them into a room by themselves or crate them. They may destroy things in the room and if they are in a crate, it will create a negative response to being in the crate and they may even damage the crate in their panic.