8 Tips on How to Help your pet deal with fear of thunder, firecrackers and loud noises

When my Miniature Schnauzer puppy Einstein was only 12 weeks old, I finally got the BIG opportunity I’d been praying for.

It RAINED!Einstein_on_a_quilt

We had been in draught for years but I knew how important it was as part of his socialization games to teach him how to be safe with loud noises, thunder, fireworks and the like.

So I’d been waiting and hoping for over a month since he came home to live with me for the chance I needed.

When it started raining, I told him how excited I was and that I had a fun new game to show him.

We paraded out onto the deck playing the follow me game, and we laughed and danced and giggled.

I took his favorite treats and rewarded him each time he did good.

We did simple obedience training games which he loved and was great at.

I focused on our connection, our communication and feeling what I wanted him to feel – connected, supported, loved, joyful and peaceful.

When it started thundering, we sat on our porch swing together and celebrated each peal and streak of lightening.  We clapped with each roll of thunder!

And we sat there swinging, getting wetter and wetter, grinning like crazy, loving each other.

At some point, I noticed how calm, peaceful and content he was even with all the rain, thunder and lightning going on all around us.  So I told him he was amazing and special.  I praised him and we came inside.

And that was that!

He was never ever afraid of thunder, storms, lightning, loud noises or fireworks again his whole life.

"Thanks Mom! I'm not afraid of thunder or fireworks or loud noises!"

“Thanks Mom! I’m not afraid of thunder or fireworks or loud noises!”

I know because I got to test him just a month later at our annual 4th of July parade and city fireworks.  He was completely non-reactive, he took things in stride, and was un-phased by the wild and crazy people, costumes, balloons, bicycles, tractors, and more.  He loved the old people, the babies, the teenagers and folks of all color, shapes and sizes too.

But, what’s fun for us is not often fun for our pets, and if we don’t prepare them properly can even wind up costing them their lives.

What pet owners may not know is that common New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July activities that include fireworks and parties can cause debilitating anxiety in our two and four-legged friends.

When they’re in that state of mind, they simply can’t hear or connect with you!

The loud noises from fireworks can cause pets to panic, feel anxious, bark uncontrollably, chew through leashes, dig under fences to escape, claw destructively, suffer seizures and escape into busy traffic areas while trying to flee from the loud, unfamiliar sounds.

In fact, the Fourth of July and the following day are THE busiest for animal shelters and animal control groups nationwide recovering lost pets that have run away.  And New Year’s Eve is a close second worst day for lost and missing pets!

When it comes to treating pet anxiety, roughly halfBlack dog with telephone of anxious dogs go untreated because owners feel it unnecessary or they believe anxiety simply doesn’t exist. The cost to pet owners is upwards of $1 billion on damaged property, trainers, vet visits and more.

Fortunately for pet owners who didn’t have Einstein’s advantage of being properly prepared, there’s a well-known, proven calming solution to protect your pets and help their anxiety during the Independence Day celebrations:

What is this miracle solution?

Ta Da!  It’s the ThunderShirt (between $30-45 on amazon).

The ThunderShirt’s gentle, constant pressure is similar to the idea of swaddling an infant, and has a dramatic calming effect on pets. It’s helped millions of dogs and cats with Fourth-of-July-related anxiety and is recommended by trainers and veterinarians worldwide. Pet anxiety experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming hormones like endorphins and oxytocins.

If your pet has a problem and you want to try using a ThunderShirt this season, be sure to get one ahead of time so they can become accustomed to wearing it. Springing something new and unusual on them when they are already upset, scared or nervous is not kind.

In addition to keeping your noise sensitive dogs and cats in their ThunderShirts on the Fourth of July or New Year’s festivities or before the next big thunderstorm, please:

  1. Talk to them ahead of time when they are quiet, relaxed and in a good space to listen to you.  Tell them what to expect, how it will sound, and how you want them to feel about what’s going on. (My Hidden Secrets to Communicating with Pets ebook teaches you how to send a message to an animal – get your copy here!  It’s FREE)
  2. Be sure a pet has up-to-date and visible identification and micro chipping in case he runs away if scared by noisy fireworks.
  3. Don’t bring pets to fireworks events. Pets are better off being left home if you are going to partake in firework festivities.
  4. Be sure to back up any photos or medical records to a cloud service so it can be easily accessed if traveling.
  5. If a dog is regularly crated, he may find the crate a place of comfort during fireworks. Try using a pheromone spray such as the ThunderSpray and make sure his favorite toy is available for further calming and distraction.
  6. Keep pets inside as much as possible during fireworks displays. The insulation of a home will help drown out the noise and make the dog feel more secure.
  7. Don’t scold a scared pet. This will scare and confuse a dog and reinforce fearful behaviors.
  8. Don’t coddle a scared pet.  This will assure them that they are right to be afraid and will not help them calm, relax or settle.
  9. Don’t be scared yourself!  Buying into your pets trauma drama will only add to their stress and yours as well.  Be quietly assertive, lighthearted and peaceful as much as you can.
  10. Keep safe, be calm and enjoy the holiday!

Wishing you and your angels, teachers, guides and healers disguised as animals much love and good communication.

** Need expert help talking to your pet before the holiday hits? Click Here to sign up for a session with Val

** Has your pet gone missing or gotten lost?  Click Here to get help bringing them home 

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