Fireworks!

I approach the Fourth of July with a dose of skepticism every year. A year is a long time for a dog whose emotional responses to stimuli are still in a state of flux, so I have no expectations. Silas was a tiny baby puppy on his first Fourth. His second fourth was No Big Deal, something that surprised me at the time. Last year, he barked at the fireworks. This year, our first with his medication, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

We’re in a good place and a bad place for fireworks–good because we aren’t in the kind of residential area that lends itself to neighbors with firecrackers all night, but bad because we’re quite near two large displays.

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This year I weighed my options and decided to start off the day quite early, with a trip to the park. It was a calculated risk. Going to the park is stressful for Silas, even if he has fun once we’re there. I was really pleased that he got right in the car, and then he seemed to enjoy himself while we were there.

After a nice dose of exercise, we spent the day pretty much as normal. We’re in a bad pattern of strong afternoon storms, so there was some thunder around 6:30. At that point, I went ahead and gave him his short-term anxiety medication, just to be on the safe side. Then we had fairly close fireworks from 9:00-9:15, and further-away-but-still-loud fireworks about half an hour later.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. Silas had some trouble with the thunderstorm, which was extremely loud, but after a few minutes he settled down. The earlier, closer, fireworks show also gave him some trouble. The Kong I had hoped would get him through wasn’t good enough, so we resorted to good old classical conditioning. Boom=delicious cheesy treat. By the end of the display, he was resting calmly near me, with a relaxed expression. The second display didn’t seem to bother him at all. I probably should have used the cheesy treats through it, too, but I didn’t want to make it into a bigger deal than he did.

How did you all fare?

 

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27 thoughts on “Fireworks!

  1. It’s illegal to light fireworks within city limits here, so when there were big booms, sirens would follow very soon afterward. And then the booms would stop. We heard maybe 15mins worth over the course of the entire day/night. Elli is counter-conditioned to the fireworks every year; I didn’t have to break out the canned food though this time, which was surprising. She took it all in stride. I’m glad to hear that it was fairly uneventful for you guys as well, several other dogs and owners that live outside of the city limits came in to get drugs for their dogs, including an owner who had kids *throwing fireworks at her dog* last year. Some people are barbaric.

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    1. I did give Silas a little nip of his short-term anxiety medication, but I’m not sure he needed it. Good job with Elli!

      I believe fireworks are pretty legal here; we just live on a weird block that’s more business than houses. Our HOA probably doesn’t allow them in the townhouse complex, but our neighbors are also mostly older and/or single people.

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  2. With his magnificent gravity defying ears, no wonder Silas hears what we don’t. Misty the alpha Poodle always explains about celebrating the birth of the country to the other dogs, so we are all mellow.

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  3. We had them fully stock with our whole calming arsenal for the Fourth, and it wasn’t bad at all! A few neighbors with small crackers, but nothing too wild. And then we discovered that’s ‘cuz our town does fireworks on the fifth. For which we were unprepared. Sigh. Live and learn, I suppose. It was a rough night for Lucas.

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  4. Good for Silas and he got in the car!! Even though they are illegal here, we’ve been hearing fireworks day and night for at least a month, more and more so leading up to the 4th. It’s our first year in this house and I’ve never in my life heard so many outside of the actual night. And on the actual 4th it went on ’til at least 2am. It seriously sounded(and looked) like we were being bombed. Luckily my dogs don’t care. Last year we even went to a display and they slept through it. But there are tons of lost dog reports in our area…so sad:(

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    1. Oh, no.

      We camped way out in rural Vermont one year and got caught in some kind of keeping up with the Joneses fireworks war. It went on all night, all weekend. I would hate to live somewhere like that now.

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  5. YAY SILAS! That’s awesome. We did fairly well here, despite the fact that the apartment is SO CLOSE to our town’s celebration that I was able to listen to the bands all day from the comfort of my deck and watch the fireworks from there as well.

    I threw caution to the wind, banking on the fact that Felix’s anxiety has been really good lately and I decided to watch the fieworks on our totally safe, fully enclosed deck with Fe in my lap. He did it with FLYING COLOURS. No barking. No shaking. *cries* It was magical.

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  6. We got the heck out of Dodge (Boise), because the whole town is fireworks-mad and our neighborhood is like MyTwoPitties’s. Unfortunately Habi is noise-phobic. We used counter-conditioning on the 30th and 1st, short-term anti-anxiety meds on the 2nd and 3rd, camped out far, far away on the 4th and 5th, and meds and cc tonight. I hope this is the last of it…sigh, we used to like fireworks…

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    1. It’s amazing how fast a dog can change your opinion of fireworks–we could walk out our front door and watch a really nice display. Instead we sit inside with the dog, because one of us being outside with THE ENEMY would worry him.

      I’m glad you found a quiet place to camp–the one time I camped Fourth of July weekend it was all fireworks all the time.

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  7. And ditto – YAY SILAS! You said it so calmly – “he got right in the car”. That is HUGE – and then to make it through the storms and fireworks with just a little help – wow!

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    1. Silas is not as afraid of fireworks and thunder as you would expect, given his general temperament. I still expect that he’ll continue getting worse as he gets older, although maybe we’ll get lucky.

      The car thing did make me very happy!

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  8. Canada isn’t quite so fireworks-friendly as the US, and I’m certain our bylaws prohibit them in the city. July 4 was obviously not a concern here, but Canada day was the 1st. We live in the ‘burbs, though, and couldn’t hear the display that went off downtown. And the Calgary Stampede is currently going on, which equals 10 nights in a row of fireworks, but they’re also far away and we can’t hear them. Which is good, because Alma would not be a fan. At all. Thunder gets to her sometimes, and I’m not too interested in testing fireworks.

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    1. We actually heard more neighborhood fireworks when we lived in Massachusetts, where they were illegal. Of course, it was just a short drive to New Hampshire to load up. Here, my neighbors just aren’t the kind of people to do fireworks.

      I’m glad Alma didn’t have to put up with too much racket.

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  9. Sounds like you and Silas did great! So glad to hear it. Fireworks might actually be less of a threat to him than walks.

    But hopping into the car to go to the park is also fabulous.

    I don’t know if it’s because of our early conditioning or because she’s from a breed known as gun dogs but Honey does ok with fireworks. It’s the weird sounding sparklers kinda things that catch her attention more than a big gunpowder boom.

    She’s also usually ok with thunderstorms but she was affected by a late night storm recently. I found that instead of just giving her treats, she did better when I gave her treats for doing her favorite tricks. The training helped to put her mind into a better place than just the treats.

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  10. It was a rough night for us. Because we are smack in the middle of several different municipalities, they seemed to go on for hours, and we had an evening thunderstorm right before dark as well. Ruby trembled in my lap and Boca trembled at my feet. I was not expecting Boca to be so afraid. For some reason it didn’t occur to me to give them treats, although Ruby usually won’t eat in that state anyway. I held a fleece headband around her ears and that seemed to help. I kept trying to find something to watch to mask the sound and it seemed everything I chose had gunshots or thunder…finally gave up and put some classical on.

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  11. I was actually pretty grateful that this year my neighbors didn’t set off firecrackers the week leading up to the 4th. They pretty much kept to doing it on the 4th, the evening of the 4th and later on the 5th. I’m not sure if I have new neighbors or what happened – but it was a relief. Blueberry just hides in the walk-in closet and actually was a little less anxious this time around. I adopted her on the 28th of December and so on New Years’ Eve, there were a lot of fireworks going off and she was a wreck. She was panting so hard and shaking the entire time. So, her reaction has definitely improved since then. I think a lot of it has to do with her being more confident and certain of her place with me. I could be wrong – but that’s the explanation I came up with. 🙂

    Glad Silas had an easier time of it! I love your “cheese therapy”! I tried treats with B before, but she’s always so nervous, eating is the last thing on her mind; although I’ve never had canned cheese for her before…

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    1. Silas doesn’t like the canned cheese. How weird is that? He also doesn’t like hotdogs. We use a brand of treats called “Cheese Please!” for our special treats. They’re ridiculously expensive, but they’re just crispy baked cheese.

      I’m glad Blueberry is doing better with the loud noises–I can’t imagine going through New Years’ Eve with a nervous dog straight from the shelter.

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      1. I know – I totally didn’t think that through. My only thought was – I get back from vacation that day and still have another week and a half to get her used to me before I go back to work. Doh.

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  12. We seemed to do okay. i was concerned because the smoke alarm upset Sampson a month or so ago, and neither hubby nor I were home for the day the fireworks actually went off (it rained the 4th) but we shut the house up, put the air and TV on and the dogs did just fine.

    Glad you found something that worked for your guy.

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