Bill and Wendy with Steve Dale on Helping Pets Fearful of Fireworks


I enjoy talking with all of you on WGN Radio, but when I am on with Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder, something special happens. The response is overwhelming. I don’t take much credit this, it’s the talent and timing of Bill and Wendy. Listen HERE to this segment, focused on fireworks safety and also the story of a cat who was trapped in a washing machine and survives.

There could possibly be time to what we call desensitize and counter-condition pets to the sounds of fireworks, and I explain how – though time is running short for that.

Vomeronasal organ in a dog

I talk about how Adaptil and Feliway, pheromone products are an easy way to instantly help dogs (Adaptil) and cats (Feliway) to feel more comfortable in their own environments. I explain to Bill what the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ is and how pets sense pheromones.

There’s enough time to at least give this approach a try. Begin by finding a YouTube or audio recording of fireworks. Play the sounds at a very low level, all while distracting the dog or cat with play/fun, or food (far from the speakers, at first). Remember, your pets’ hearing is far better than yours. The idea is that your dog or cat is so distracted, the low-level fireworks sounds are also barely audible. Soon the pet will associate the sound of fireworks with those great treats or with play. Now ever so gradually pump up the volume. Typically. depending on the level of fear the pet had, this process takes a week or two (potentially longer).

Bill likes the Thundershirt, as do I. He noted, I was wearing my Thunderpants – but that is another story.

Bill talks about fireworks at baseball games, and actually just weeks ago it was alleged that a terrified dog died as a result of fireworks, as the dog was literally scared to death. Experts I spoke with agree that likely the dog had an underlying condition, but still don’t take dogs to fireworks displays. And dog-friendly events at games, while great, should not include fireworks.

Wendy asks about CBD and pets – will it help for pets fearful of fireworks?

Here are Three Things That Should NEVER happen regarding pets and the Fourth.

I Will Be Here

I do speak all over the world, but I have a couple of talks coming up which happen to be in the Chicago area.

On July 21, I am speaking at the Meow Meet Up at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. I am only a small part of Chicago’s own cat convention, a fiesta for feline fanatics. I am focusing on cats and the Fear Free initiative,on how not only to minimize fear, anxiety and stress of veterinary visits but also a home, which coincides with my second talk about enriching cat lives, called “Brain Dead Fat Cats.” I hope you can join me at 11:30 a.m. and again I speak at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are here. AND  Use the Discount Code SteveDale (as one word) or WGN and you will receive $5 off admission.

I partake in the Animal Behaviour Society Public Day, with a program called, “The Modern Dog: In & Out of the Shelter” on Saturday, July 27, 9:00 a.m.-1 p.m.. at the University of Illinois Student Center East building, Room 302. The entire day is free and open to the public (unlike the paid portion of the conference). No registration required. At noon, I am happy to again talk about the Fear Free initiative, to minimize pets’ fear, anxiety and stress in homes and also in shelter environments.