Greyhounds and Fireworks
by Pat Jefts and VAGA
This is a friendly reminder and warning to be careful on the 4th of July. A firecracker going off can send a panic through a normally calm Greyhound. So remember when you are out walking your Grey(s) to think about the effect it could have if one went off and be aware of neighbors who might be celebrating the 4th with firecrackers or fireworks.
Don't depend on a collar to hold a panicked dog! A Greyhound can be hit by a passing car in an instant if it gets spooked or bolts from fear. During this time of celebration keep your dog walks brief and check for a nice secure collar fit. You may even have to be able to reach and hold on to your pet if he/she gets a fright. A well fitted harness is a good alternative for an easily spooked Grey. Remember even a fenced back yard may not be secure enough if the noise level gets too high so keep a watchful eye on your pet and keep outside time brief until the 4th's celebrations subside. Please also remember if you are going to a July 4th Celebration, barbecue, or party where there may be firecrackers, it would be prudent and safer to leave your own Grey(s) home safe and sound. If you have a phobic Greyhound it might be helpful for you to give 3 mg. (milligrams only) Melatonin "or" 1 capsule Valerian Root to your Greyhound. These are supplements that can be purchased in a store's vitamin section. Rescue Remedy, which can be purchased at a Health Food Store, may also be of help. Some owners even suggest using the Greys' winter coats or a blanket to cover them inside the house during this phobic time. If possible, leave a closet open for your Grey to "hide" in.
If you are having guests for the holiday, don't forget to remind them that Greyhounds can get through an open door very quickly and cannot tolerate the heat. This is no time for a friend or family member to take a long walk or jog with your loving pet. Keep a collar with all tags including the GPA tag and your identification tag on your Grey at all times. Make sure gates and doors are secure at all times. In the commotion of celebrating, safety is often forgotten, which can lead to a dangerous situation for your pet.
Many dog owners complain about their dog's reaction to fireworks. The combination of loud noises and bright lights can scare dogs, even those that don't normally have a history of noise phobias. Lots of dogs have phobias, and the most common dog phobia is fear of noises. Some dogs will exhibit signs of fear that can include pacing, panting, trembling, salivating, trying to escape and/or barking. Many dogs will actually injure themselves when trying to escape. What can you do to help keep your dog stay calm during the fireworks this weekend?
Here are some suggestions: Do not take your dog to the fireworks display. Make sure that your dog will be calm at home, or stay home with your dog during the fireworks. Keep your dog confined in a comfortable location if possible.
Don't try too hard to reassure your dog during a fearful event with petting, soothing words, or extra attention. This can sometimes exacerbate the problem by reinforcing your dog's fearful response.Some dogs are very sensitive to people's moods and may be influenced by the way that you react to the noise. It is best to act happy and upbeat or to redirect your dog's attention to some absorbing activity.
If you must leave your dog at home alone during the fireworks, consider what would make your dog most comfortable. NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG OUTDOORS WHEN YOU ARE NOT HOME.
Would he feel safest in a crate? Try turning on the radio, television, fan or air conditioner as "white noise". Make sure you provide a comfortable hiding place or "safe place" for your dog in case he is scared during the fireworks.
Accompany your dog outside if you have a fenced yard---do not allow him/her to be outside alone. We have had more than one Grey jump the fence out of sheer panic.