PSA, Public Service Announcement: Use PetMassage to help your dogs survive-and sleep through-Fourth of July fireworks.
Independence Day fireworks are highly stressful to sensitive people and sensitive dogs. Let’s focus on the victim dogs. When the bombs start bursting in air, their percussive blasts can be devastating. Dogs shake. Dogs pace. They cannot sleep. Cannot eat. Cannot play. Cowering by the door, they refuse to leave the security of the house. When explosives are going off, and they may be barely heard off in the distance, they often refuse to venture out into their own yards to pee and poop. It’s Scaryland out there. They’re terrified of what’s outside. So scared. So emotionally fragile. What can we do to help them?
Is there anything you can find, or buy, or do to help your dogs? There must be something we can find to calm their frayed nerves?
You’ve already searched online and have researched the traditionally recommended methods. Over the counter sedatives. Serious vet prescribed sedatives. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy. Essential oils like lavender and frankincense. You can play music to compete with the noise outside.
Jai Hamilton, of the The Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control Center, recommends keeping dogs inside during fireworks. They should also have collars and microchips. She suggests a way to desensitize dogs with training.
“Play a recording at a low volume. When your dog hears those noises, you give them a treat. Then when the Fourth of July rolls around and they hear fireworks, they think of happy thoughts when they hear those sounds.” But what about today and this week?
You may have already purchased a pheromone collar; and/or a Thundershirt, a jacket that swaddles the dog with snug fitting Velcro fasteners. Or, you may have tried loosely crisscrossing an ace bandage around your dogs rib cage and shoulders, T-Touch style. Some of these work. Some work some of the time.
From the perspective of massage, something essential is missing from all of these. What’s missing? The comfort of your touch.
If your child was anxious and terrified, the first thing you’d want to do is to find some nonverbal way to comfort them. You let them know that they are not alone. You are there for support. You’d hold their hand. Offer a reassuring touch or grace stroke on their forehead. A hug. An arm around the shoulder.
If you knew of a special point on their body, like the acupressure point on the inside of the wrist that eases the symptoms of air sickness; a point that would reduce their anxiety, would you stimulate it? Of course you would.
Your dogs have special calming points on their bodies that you can easily locate, access, stimulate, or in this case, quiet/sedate. Every PetMassage bodywork protocol includes a sequence to engage these points. Points which function to enable dogs to cope with extremes. Extremes in physical issues; extremes in behavioral, psychological and emotional issues, like the panictriggered by the loud, abrupt, and unexpected report of fireworks.
This part of the PetMassage is something you can do today, during the first rumblings of firecrackers and Roman candles, to provide your dog some relief. This massage reduces the hysteria your dog is experiencing; and the helplessness that you are feeling to comfort him/her. Let’s take both of your levels of anxiety down to more manageable levels.
Vectoring is a series of simple hand holds that are applied on your dogs body.
These hand positions are a sequence of 6 combinations of slow hand placements. Each combination is applied gently yet securely. Each hold is held for 5 or more breath cycles. Slow inhales to the count of 5, hold for the count of 3, and slow exhales to the count of 7. The order follows the sequence of Traditional Chinese Medicine Meridians. So, the order your hands follow when they move from place to place on your dogs body is significant. If you apply the sequence in a different order, you will not harm your dog; the resulting effect will just not be as pure.
There’s a place for us… Take your dog to a safe place where he/she feels comfortable. A favorite spot, a chair, a blanket or a pad. A place with a friendly scent. Open a door or window so the popping and cracking sounds are still audible. As you sit with him/her, apply the following sequence of hand placements, breathing at the rate described above. You can play some soft music if that calms you; but you still want to hear the offending fireworks. Hold my hand and I’ll take you there…
The hand placements are
- One hand on the chest, the other over the withers, or spine just behind the neck. Breathe and relax.
- One hand on the spine just behind the neck, the other on the spine, just in front of the tail. Breathe and relax.
- Cup the bulge of the hip joints in both palms. Breathe and relax.
- Slide your hands forward to inside the armpits cupping the rib cage. Breathe and relax.
- One hand on the top line at the back of the rib cage, the other underneath, supporting the belly. Breathe and relax.
- Retain the hand where it is on the top line at the back of the rib cage, move the other hand to the chest. The breastbone cupped in your palm. Breathe and relax.
This is an excerpt from the new book Canine Massage for Passionate Dog People that describes Vectoring.
“As you hold each vector, visualize the waves of the ocean lapping up onto the beach washing the rocks with foam. Each wave retreats back into the water, leaving a shimmering lacy residue. In its wake, you see all the small rocks and shells repositioned in the sand. Then, caught by an inflow of the next oncoming wave, part of the water as well as the debris suspended in it, is carried back up onto the beach. The new waves push through the resistance and create new patterns.”
Repeat as necessary based on your dogs responses. If and when your dog begins to stress and pace again, repeat.
These gentle and intentional holds engage internal patterns in your dog’s nervous system. Patterns that provide strength, resilience, and calm.
Please let me know in your comments how helpful PetMassage Vectoring is in alleviating your dogs’ firework and thunderstorm anxiety.
Vectoring is described more fully with accompanying illustrations in PetMassage books and DVDs. Here are the links so you can order yours today.