Calming your dog’s anxiety during noisy Fourth of July
Have a dog with noise phobias, especially fireworks? A psychologist explains three main ways calm dogs’ fears.
July 1, 2013 — Dog owners everywhere feel a pang of anxiety as the Fourth of July approaches. Will their pooch simply hide under the bed when fireworks go off or run for the hills? If you’re the owner of a dog with noise phobias, what can you do?University of Washington psychologist James Ha, a specialist in animal behavior, has several suggestions, each with its own set of pros and cons.Ha, an associate professor with a side business as an animal behavior consultant, says there are three main ways to handle noise phobias: management, treatment and drugs.Management involves removing the dog from the situation. Owners might put their pets in the basement with loud music on so they don’t hear the fireworks. Others may take their dog to a kennel far removed from potential fireworks. Many kennels offer special Fourth of July programs.If you choose the kennel-in-the-country option, Ha says it’s important that your dog is already comfortable with the kennel; for example, it should be a kennel you use regularly when you’re on vacation. Don’t just drop dogs off at a new kennel on the Fourth of July and expect them to be happy.Treatment options can include special wraps that apply gentle acupressure, or counterconditioning to replace an undesirable response to a stimulus (fear) with a positive one.Ha and two researchers from Tufts University in Boston recently published a paper on the effectiveness of a product called Anxiety Wrap for calming dogs during thunderstorms. Ha says there are many similar products that all work essentially the same.”The Anxiety Wraps work for some dogs and they work for acute situations, or short-term situations,” Ha said of the research, which was funded by the company that makes Anxiety Wrap. “The distinction is, most dog bites and aggression is related to fear and anxiety — of children, of cars, of men — it’s a chronic thing. So the Anxiety Wrap is not going to work on those situations. …
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