Create a Safe Haven
Choose an escape-proof interior room with no exit to outdoors.
Be sure all windows are completely closed and covered with curtains or blinds.
Give your dog opportunities to hide under or behind furniture or inside a closet.
Give him bedding in loose layers so that he can make a “nest” if he wants to.
Keep the door to the room either open or closed but put a sign on the door to alert guests and remind family members.
Day One Task
1. Take a picture of your dog happy and relaxed.
2. Answer two questions:
1. Where will your dog’s Safe Haven be?
2. What are 3 things you will include in his Safe Haven?
3. Then share:
Post your dog’s picture along with your answers to the two questions in the Day One thread in the Facebook Group:
Should You Use a Crate?
If your dog is normally relaxed in his crate, move it into his Safe Haven. The crate door can be either open or closed. If closing the door makes your dog anxious, then leave the crate door open. Let your dog decide if he wants to stay in his crate or not.
Put extra bedding in the crate and cover it with a sheet to make it feel like a good place to hide.
If you or your dog have negative feelings about the crate, then do not include it in your Safe Haven plans.
Calming music or a noise machine: https://icalmpet.com/ https://positively.com/dog-wellness/dog-enrichment/music-for-dogs/canine-noise-phobia-series/
Extra bedding: Add loose bedding for extra comfort and so that your dog can make a “nest” or a hiding place.
Water bowl or water in a spray bottle: It’s important to keep your dog adequately hydrated. If he’s too stressed to drink, you can gently spray some water into the side of his mouth. Use a spray bottle that has only contained clean water.
Chew toys: bully sticks or antlers
Favorite toys: Familiar and comforting. Try distracting the dog with a game of fetch (indoors) or tug.
Food puzzle: Fill with special treats or kibble to keep the dog busy and entertained.
Stuff Kong toys and store them in the freezer until you need them. https://www.kongcompany.com/learn/stuff-a-kong
Sturdy 5-6 ft leash (NOT retractable!): Even if your dog uses a fenced area outdoors, and even if he is usually reliable off leash, you can’t assume what he will do if he panics and his flight instinct drives him to escape. Use a leash. Better safe than sorry.
Sign for the door: Inform guests and remind family members about your dog’s Safe Haven. The sign lets everyone know to respect the dog’s space.
Places to hide: The extra bedding gives him a choice but if your dog wants to hide under the bed instead, just offer him a blanket and a toy and let him keep his chosen hiding place.
Crate (optional): See “Should you use a crate” above.
Check on the dog frequently. Look in on him, make sure he has taken a drink and that he’s reasonably comfortable. A dog that is showing signs of extreme anxiety should not be left alone.
Do not coax or force the dog to “act normal”. Change the dog’s environment, not the dog.
Respect the dog’s space. If he’s hiding, do NOT reach or grab at him. This could appear to be a threat, especially if he’s already frightened. He might snap or growl, even if that behavior is out of character for him. If hiding comforts him, just let him hide.
Brief friends and family members. Explain your plan and get everyone to cooperate.
Put a sign on the door.
Feed and exercise the dog early. Do this before the fireworks get underway as much as possible.
Potty the dog ON LEASH, even if he is normally fine off leash. This is not a normal day. Don’t assume your dog will not panic and try to escape. Cover your bases.