Dealing with Anxiety: How to keep your Australian Shepherd calm during the 4th of July Fireworks
To Australian Shepherds who fear thunderstorms, fireworks are like the bigger, meaner, louder bully of an older brother. The consistent loud noises and bright flashing lights can cause a lot of stress for your furry friend, making the 4th of July one of the biggest days for pet stress of the year. Make sure to keep your Australian Shepherd inside during the fireworks!
If they get outside and are scared, they can run away and get lost. It can be the smell. It can be the noise and the flash of light. Your Australian Shepherd may tremble, shake, shiver, howl and bark. Some of them even become frantic. It is largely believed that Independence Day is the day when the highest number of dogs run away. Here are a few tips to help calm your Australian Shepherd and reduce anxiety during the Summer holiday.
Arrange to have your Australian Shepherd in a place there won’t be loud fireworks displays- a friend’s or relative’s home or a doggie daycare with which your Australian Shepherd is familiar. If it is an unfamiliar place for your pet, take him over there a few times in the days before the holiday so that it won’t be a surprise when you take him there on the 4th.
If you cannot take your Australian Shepherd to a place away from fireworks, then have a travel kennel at home for him to feel safe in. What if you are not going to be home? It’s best to have a friend or sitter there to keep your Australian Shepherd company and take him out to relieve himself as much as possible. Consider leaving town for a quieter spot. Camping trip, maybe??
Give your Australian Shepherd lots of exercise the day-of
Unlike thunderstorms, you usually know when fireworks are coming. Make sure to try and get your pet lots of exercise before the fireworks start, that way they will have less pent up nervous energy when the loud noises start. You can go for an extra-long walk that day, a run, or even multiple shorter walks. You can try playing fetch to burn off some energy or since it is Summer weather you could take your Australian Shepherd for a dip in a pool/lake. They love that! A tired pet is a calm pet. So be sure to get as much exercise in before the festivities begin.
Provide a safe space for your Australian Shepherd with other noises during the fireworks
Try to insulate your Australian Shepherd from the booms outside. Make sure your pet has a “safe space” to go to when they get scared, could be a room closed off with some of their favorite objects or an open crate if they like their “house”. If you have a radio or you can use a TV, turn it on! This will help block out the sound and reduce the impact of the fireworks on your pup. You should also close the curtains or blinds in your house. Australian Shepherds can be very sensitive to light/sudden changes so closing the house up can help reduce that unwanted stimulation. Australian Shepherds are den animals they are looking for that cave to get away from it all. Give your Australian Shepherd lots of snuggles. Calmly soothing and reassuring your pet is fine as long as you avoid loud exclamations or frantic movements.
Try Distracting your Australian Shepherd with toys or treats
You should try to act as normal as possible around your pup (they pick up on your mood) and distract them if possible. Get out their favorite toys or games and play a little extra with them. A few minutes before the fireworks start, give your Australian Shepherd a special treat that they can enjoy instead of paying attention to the loud noises.
A Kong with peanut butter, a bulky stick, an antler, or any other type of long-lasting chew, will be the perfect thing to keep their mind occupied. They will love getting extra treats too to help them be more comfortable.
You could also try a ThunderShirt calming wrap. These snug-fitting vests apply sustained, comforting pressure to your pet’s torso. This is a natural solution for helping Australian Shepherds who fear fireworks and other loud noises. It applies a gentle, constant pressure (like a hug) that has a dramatic calming effect on Australian Shepherds.
Try desensitizing tricks
Start working with your Australian Shepherd far enough in advance to desensitize him or her to fireworks and other loud noises., You can start this process by playing fireworks sounds on a low level while playing with your pet and giving him treats.
Over time, slowly increase the sound of the fireworks during these play sessions. While this can be a simple process, it can take time- possibly three or four months of playing the recorded sounds of fireworks for your Australian Shepherd at an increasingly louder volume before he eats, before a walk, and before giving love and play time. Eventually your Australian Shepherd will associate the sound of fireworks with happy and fun moments.
It is natural for Australian Shepherds to be afraid of loud noises. The sounds trigger their nervous system, and they can become anxious or afraid. Running away from the noise is a survival instinct. More pets run away on the 4th of July than any other day, so you should take extra steps to ensure their safety. Keep a keen eye on your Australian Shepherd during the commotion, and make sure your pet is wearing proper identification.
Australian Shepherds Vs. Fireworks :: Conclusion
Remember, to your Australian Shepherd, the experience of fireworks is different than other natural loud noises, like thunder. Fireworks are closer to the ground, more vibrant and are accompanied by sudden booms, flashes and burning smells. Australian Shepherds experience the world through their senses. The typical 4th of July celebration can be overwhelming to them.
Not all pets are afraid of fireworks, but it’s important to remember your Australian Shepherd will take cues from you. If you make a big deal out of them when they are not scared, they may eventually develop anxiety about fireworks. So, try to keep your Australian Shepherd calm, but remember to remain calm yourself. You know your Australian Shepherd best and will know how much to intervene during the festivities. When in doubt remember that prevention, distraction and lots of love are always a good idea!
Make firework season enjoyable for everyone by taking a few minutes to think about it from your pet’s perspective. When the booms and bangs of Independence Day are over, your Australian Shepherd will be grateful to you for having made it a less stressful experience.