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Woof Wednesday: BOOM! Dealing With Fireworks Fears

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Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can turn your pets into nervous wrecks. More cats and dogs–and even livestock like horses–become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy cats, but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. If you start these programs when your fur-kid is a baby, it can help him stay calm during all kinds of scary noises, from thunderstorms and gunshots to fireworks fears.


So--can you "hear" what he's saying?

My mom’s Shelties used to act like furry jello as they quivered and dove for that dark safe spot under the bed. But the Magical-Dawg could care less. Part of that, I think, has to do with the PUPPY-PARTEEEEE! WOW, WAS THAT LOUD, WHAT FUN! reactions I’d offer him each time the thunder boomed during his socialization months. Now, if a particularly loud thunder-clap startles me and I jump, he does look at me with eyebrows raised–ready to get wound up if I so much as “say” he should by my body language.

Pets do read us. You have to be a really good actor around dogs (and cats) because they read our silent language with little effort. Do you speak dog? What do all those tail wags and woofs mean? Do you know what a doggy laugh sounds like? Check out my latest puppy-licious article on dog talk, and tell me what I’ve missed. Different dogs “speak” in unique ways–how do your fur-kids tell you what they want?

How do your dogs tell you they’re scared? Do you have special ways for soothing the angst? Noise phobias can be especially tough to manage, especially when the fear has gone on for a while. For tips on how to desensitize and some neato products to help the process with puppies and dogs, check out these 11 tips for calming noise fears.

But with Independence Day right around the corner, you’ll need some immediate help. Paw Nation published my latest article 10 Tips to Prevent Fireworks Fears — for dogs, cats, even horses!

You’ll find more help for pet behavior problems including fear issues in my PETiQuette book, and it’s also addressed in the Aging Dog and Aging Cat books–old fogey pets have much less tolerance for scary stuff. Be safe and have a lovely July 4th.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways GOING OUT TOMORROW!

About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant (dogs/cats), award winning author of 30+ pet care titles and thrillers, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

4 responses »

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