Every year, I see the posts and comments from people who are angry about fireworks because it upsets their animals. While I completely understand that side too and the harm fear can cause, it seems to me the solution is to try to desensitize our animals, since it’s not possible to control what other people do at their own places. Loud noises ARE a part of life, and if your animals are reactive, you have some work to do in your shepherding.
All our animals do fine with loud noises because of frequent exposure. We have shooting enthusiasts all around us and I’m so grateful for that fact, because even our pups are unflinching with loud noises since they’re just a fact of life here.
If I had reactive animals, I’d start going about desensitizing by positive reinforcement and noise – make a loud noise, immediately follow up with a treat. This associates the scary noises with something positive and helps them get over their fear. I’d do this in their pens when possible, and I’d include some fireworks like poppers and firecrackers, just to help them learn that they aren’t in danger.
Sometimes desensitizing older animals just doesn’t work because it’s too deeply ingrained at that point. We had a GSD who would become a nervous wreck every 4th…and every thunderstorm (summer was fun with him 😅 ). A couple of years before he died, I was given a bottle of CBD oil and that helped immensely. A couple droppers in his mouth and 30 minutes later he’d be chilled out, still hiding in my bed but not frantic.
Proactively working with animals can save a lot of stress and potential heartache and is well worth the time invested. Even if your older animals can’t be convinced, regular work on desensitizing will keep subsequent generations safe and stress free.
Remedies for Fear/Anxiety
Rescue Remedy is a branded, readily available flower essence that is found to be very helpful.
Lavender and chamomile essential oils can be diffused or applied on collars/other non-lickable areas.
Valerian root tincture can be administered orally. In low doses it is very calming; in higher doses it is a sleep aid. I take about 8 drops at night to help me sleep and 2-3 drops when I need calming.
CBD oil can be administered orally.
Homeopathic remedies include phosphorus 30c, borax 6c, aconite 30c and gelsemium 6c or 30c, see more info here.
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