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Fireworks and Fido Don't Always Mix
Date:7/1/2011

s recommend acclimating dogs to the sound.

How? Yin suggested while softly playing a CD of fireworks, putting the dog in a "happy state" by quickly tossing him several treats then teaching him a new game or trick. Keep the daily training sessions short, just 5 or 10 minutes. With each new session, gradually increase the CD's volume. Eventually the dog learns the scary sound isn't such a big deal because good things are happening to him.

"You're changing what's going on in his mind," explained Yin. "He's engaging in behaviors that take him away from his fear."

Ideally, owners should start desensitizing their dogs to the sound of fireworks a month or two ahead of time. However, even if there's only a day or two left before the holiday, it's still worth trying, she said.

Owners with extremely fearful dogs should consider asking their veterinarian for anti-anxiety medication. Even though the tranquilizer acepromazine is frequently prescribed by veterinarians, Yin warned the drug does not decrease a dog's fear, and may even make matters worse by increasing sound sensitivity.

Other calming strategies for nervous pets this Independence Day weekend include:

  • Playing a CD of harp music that's arranged to promote progressive peace and relaxation in animals.
  • Using a diffuser filled with lavender and chamomile oil. A 2005 study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science found the aroma helped shelter dogs rest and relax.
  • Putting an anti-anxiety T-shirt or vest on your dog. The specially designed clothing reportedly applies a gentle yet calming pressure around the dog's mid-section.
  • Buying earmuffs for your dog. This sound blocker was designed to protect the sensitive hearing of dogs traveling on private airplanes.
  • Sending your pet overnight to a friend's or family member's house located in a firework-free zone.
  • Turning your home's basement, which naturally blocks sound, into a te
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