From 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 6 I’m appearing at Westfield Southlake Mall by the Humane Society of Northwest Indiana kiosk on the second floor. For a small donation, you can write a question and I’ll answer it in my Post-Tribune column. Pretty neat, right?
Updated: July 24, 2013 6:28AM
Every year just around this time, I hear rumbling noises in the distance and loud bangs near my house. Then, I am graced with the presence of an 80 pound dog panting on my lap. Her ears are down, her tail is twitching and her claws are out. She’s scared and I’m trapped under a bristle tent of brindle colored collie fur. What can I do to enjoy the July 4th holiday season without stressing out Lassie?
Dear Pet Parents:
Ka-Boom! What you have here is a scared dog. However, it’s natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises so not to worry.
The sounds trigger their nervous system and they may become very afraid, unsure or shy. Running away from the noise is a survival mechanism for dogs. I know dogs that react to the loud sound of a vacuum cleaner by either attacking the large metallic, mechanical monster or running from it.
But this is about your question. If you want to prevent your 80 pound collie from quivering in your lap, I have these suggestions.
Scolding or coddling Lassie won’t help her. Scolding will scare and confuse her and coddling serves to reinforce her fearful behaviors.
Instead, you need to act confident and unbothered by the noise and activity outside and distract her by playing a game such as ball. Also, I like Cesar Milan’s suggestion of going for a very long walk before the fireworks.
If Lassie is completely exhausted, her brain will be so tired that she won’t be able to concentrate on the fireworks.
If booming fireworks are being set off by neighbors nearby or if you’re having guests over for a holiday celebration that includes fireworks, find a quiet, secure place to keep Lassie.
Darkening the room can help and so can crating. Don’t leave her outside even in a fenced yard where fireworks may be heard in a distance.
She may try to dig her way to China or jump a fence.
Some veterinarians sell “Thundershirts” to wrap around a dog thereby reducing anxiety. Or you can make your own by using an adult or children’s T-shirt. As a last resort, you can get a prescription from your veterinarian for tranquilizers.
Lassie will never understand America’s need to celebrate their independence from Britain by setting off fireworks that have a booming profit margin and I don’t either.