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Welcome to Diana Guerrero's Ark Animals Training & Therapy. This section is dedicated to pets, companion animals, and topics related to their care and training. This article discusses the pet problem of noise phobia. You should get professional help for pet problems.

Pet Behavior Problems: Noise Phobia on New Year's Day & Independence Day (July 4th)

As the celebrations of New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July approach it is important to alert pet owners so that they can be prepared for their pets' sake--and safety.

Many animals are traumatized by the loud fireworks during the holiday celebrations. The fireworks, aircraft, and other related noises may turn your pets into a quivering mass of jelly or have them bolt as a result of their fright; they may also be destructive to the home, or even worse, to themselves.

There are ways to desensitize a pet to thunder storms and fireworks, but it takes time and preplanning. If this holiday is right around the corner, there are a couple of things owners can do to assist their pets through this short period of potential trauma.

First, understand that "comforting" your pet, although done with good intentions, can actually reinforce the fear and panic. You could call it "training by accident " and it is best to refrain from it.

Reassuring your pet is different from the cuddling, petting, holding, and trying to physically relieve the stress. The age of your pet, socialization, experience, and breed can also influence their reactions.

The best preparations that you can use at such short notice is to make sure that your pet has ID tags with current information on them, and that they are safely secured both before and through the holiday period. Here are a few quick temporary options:

Crate your pet at home
Kennel the pet professionally
Keep the pet confined/restrained indoors
Use Drug Therapy (Tranquilizers/anti-anxiety medications from the veterinarian)

Ideally your home environment is the best holding area for your pet. It is suggested that you put your animal in a quiet room or into a crate. Solid sided crates such as Vari-Kennel® or Kennel-Cab® seem to work better than the wire ones. Wire crates tend to be more open and feel less secure and your pet could damage their teeth on them more easily.

If you are using a room in the home, the best one to restrain an animal in is the bathroom, laundry room, or secure garage. The room to choose is one where there are no windows to jump through, or where they can be blocked off and are too high and narrow to access.

Also try to darken the room and/or crate and play soothing music fairly loud (to help drown out the firework noise). It is ideal if a family member can be at home with the animal through this time. These are the types of things that will help most pets feel more secure and calmer.

Before the holiday, be aware that fireworks may be set off before dark. Keep your dog on a leash when toileting, and make sure that your pets have on a secure collar with the name and phone number of the veterinarian, and owners. Put your pets "to bed" early on the fourth before the fireworks start.

Crates or confinement serve as a "den" for your pet and will help them to feel more secure --if this is trained right and done gradually. Long periods alone in a crate should be avoided. Some dogs will not like being confined if you do this too quickly and many will protest by howling, whining, barking, and having a fit.

If you have time, it is best to gradually train them to "crate." Put food or a treat in the kennel with the door latched open. Later work at closing the door for a few seconds and praising them for staying there quietly. Gradually lengthen the time spent in the crate with you there, and then with you leaving the room.

Always check with your veterinarian and behavior specialist before using any drugs or tranquilizers, and don't forget to watch out for guests opening doors up which can provide an opportunity for animals to bolt outdoors. For further help, contact your veterinarian or your local animal behavior specialist.

If you are experiencing this behavior problem help is just a phone call away! Hire Animal Expert

About the columnist: Since 1978 Diana L. Guerrero has worked professionally with both wild and domestic animals. Guerrero has been affiliated with, and certified by, a variety of animal programs in the USA and Europe. Based in California, she writes, consults, and speaks. Information on her animal career programs, training courses, and her books {What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (SkyLight Paths, 2003), Blessing of the Animals (Sterling, 2007), Help! My Pet is Driving Me Crazy (Guerrero Ink, 2007), Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals (Guerrero Ink, 2007)} can be found in this web site and in the shop. Questions for Guerrero should be submitted via the blog comments or membership forum.


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