Talk to your pets
First published in the Santa Barbara News-Press
July 4th – Fireworks
It is fireworks season again! This is a stressful time of year for even our most confident pets. Random, unpredictable popping and sizzling occur without warning, deafening our animals’ ears and confusing their senses. The smell of burning alone can send our animals into flee mode.
Remain confident. When I was in college, I didn’t have the concept that animals could be scared of fireworks. My boyfriend and I would take out his sailboat on Long Island Sound to watch the fireworks up-close. We would stuff my two dogs’ ears full of cotton and they would sit with us happily all night watching the fireworks. They never once seemed nervous. If we felt safe they felt safe.
Knowledge is power. Explaining to your animals what is going to happen on the days leading up to Fourth of July and throughout the weekend can help prepare them for chaos. First, sit in a quiet place with your animals. Remember to breathe and empty your mind of any distractions. While you talk to your animals, picture everything you say as if there are clips of a movie playing in your mind. If you have a hard time visualizing, no worries! Just make sure your words are clear and your mind will create the pictures on its own. Try to feel every emotion and sense it in your body as if it is happening to yourself at this very moment. Then say to them, “I want to explain to you what will be happening in the next few days (pictures a few sunsets and sunrises). Every year on this weekend, adults and children play with toys (picture them with one of their toys and then a human with a firework). “These human toys make a lot of loud noises (hear sizzling and popping in your head). They also burn (remember the smell in your mind). They are safe (picture the burning only being around a firework). These toys are so wonderful for people because they fly high up in the sky and create beautiful colorful patterns in the sky or off of the toy. (Picture the fireworks and people in awe). This happens every year. People all over play with their own fireworks and then they go to a certain place on one night and watch a big display of fireworks. (Picture people playing joyfully at their home with fireworks and then traveling to where there are crowds and watching a big display).
“I know that it is scary (picture your animal scared), but you are safe, and you must stay home where you are truly protected. (Picture them confident, aware, and staying home on Fourth of July). There will be no more fireworks in a few days. (Picture it quiet again after the sun rises and sets a few times). This is what I will do for you on the day where the noise is the worst (explain where they will be and how you will help them.) I love you and want you to feel safe.”
This is what you must do: All outside animals should be contained in a safe place. Many animals that would never run away flee in terror on July 4. Please bring them into a safe shelter (garage, laundry room, house … ). Make sure they cannot climb out of windows or open the doors. At the very least lock yard gates, but inside is preferable.
Bring all your animals in at least an hour or two before nightfall. Once the noise starts it will be harder to find them. Close all windows, turn on fans or AC, leave the TV or light classical music on. Close shades so that the animals do not see the fireworks.
If your animal is frightened inside you can put a T-shirt on your animal. Safety-pin the shirt around the stomach so it is snug. This can give awareness to your dog’s body and can create more confidence. This is the same concept of the “thunder shirt”. Some dogs like to go under beds or in a covered crate.
Give your dog a light meal. Eating can affect the limbic system (the emotional center of the brain). If you have to sedate your animal, please tell them what you are doing and the reaction of the drug so they do not get frightened when they get groggy. It can make it worse, because they feel disoriented.
We love Young Living essential oils in my house. Diffuse Peace and Calming or rub a little on their back.
You can give your animal Rescue Remedy a Bach Flower Essence. It has a calming effect on animals. You can purchase it at most health food stores.
or buy the best flower essences from Meg at http://blackwingfarms.com/
You can also give them CBD oil or treats to help relax them. You can find this at many local pet pet-stores. or buy from: https://cannacompanionusa.com/
T-Touch on your Animal can help too. T-touch is a special way to touch your animal. Practitioner Jodi Frediani says, “TTouch likely engages the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing muscle tension and allowing heart rate, blood pressure and circulation to slow, in effect bringing stress levels down. Bringing the stress level down may allow a dog (or person or horse) to have more body awareness, which can help if the body is compensating because of a past fear or pain”. Check out http://ttouch.com/ to see how to perform the T-Touch. Stroking the ears of the animal also helps.
Please think of your animal this week. Take the time out to explain to them what will be happening. Be overly cautious about keeping them safe. It can save their lives.
More animals end up lost, dead, or in the shelter on Fourth of July than on any other day. Some are never found.
Please take the time to take care of your pets and have an amazing 4th of July!
This was written by a friend of mine, Deb Norton http://www.debnortonwriting.com/, in a Facebook Post.
It is great advice to share:
This probably won’t work for adult dogs who’ve already decided that fireworks sounds are the devil, but if you have a young ‘un, try this: give them a positive intro by finding a fireworks video or sound file and playing it on the tv or stereo. While it’s playing keep a confident and upbeat attitude and play a fun game that gives them something to do and works out the worry. For us, hunt-the-hot-dog worked (Yes, I know how that sounds. Get your mind out of the gutter!) – that’s where they have to sit/stay while you hide hot dog slices or other tasty treats around the house and when you say go, they get to hunt them and eat them like Pac Man. Tug games or food puzzles would probably work, too, but I think it was something about the focused effort that made hunt-the-hot-dogs really successful. Then whenever there are real fireworks or thunder or backfires or whatever, repeat the fun. After a few playful experiences with bad sounds, our dogs don’t react in the least. They even had a Civil War reenactment in the town we lived in – with cannons – and a gunfight on mainstream ever hour on the hour, for several days leading up to the actual fireworks display. The girls could not have cared less. I know how hard it can be to watch your pals shake and pant and glaze over and not be able to help them and I’ve also known folks whose dogs break down or chew through doors and bolt which is super scary, so I hope this helps somebody. Happy, unstressed 4th! (Credit for this idea goes to Laura Stinchfield the Pet Psychic, who is a critter genius.)