Pet Parent Tips for Coping with Fire Alarm Testing
Fire alarm testing is crucial for ensuring safety for both humans and your pets, but as apartment dwellers, we all dread that letter under our door letting us know that testing will be going on in the building! Along with fire alarm testing comes the high-pitched sounds that can cause a stress response in pets. Not knowing what is happening and hearing a loud noise may cause your pet to run and hide, excessively bark, or start panting heavily. If your pet gets distressed with fire alarms, we have put together some great tips to help your pet feel calm and safe!
Ensure when the fire alarm testing occurs as most buildings give one to two weeks' notice prior, and it is a good idea to check in with your building concierge for more information. Plan ahead and bring your pet to a nearby friend, family, or neighbor's house if they have high anxiety. If you do not have the option to bring your pet to a nearby friend or family member's house, look into a local daycare or in-home pet sitter. For dogs, lengthening their walk times with an afternoon dog walker will allow the dog to avoid the stressor as much as possible. It also provides excellent socialization and an exercise opportunity for the day!
It’s important to understand your pet’s stress responses. If you know your dog or cat is anxious, especially during loud noises, make sure you remove any hazards in your home, such as items that can cause them to become destructive under stressful situations. If you're at home during the alarm testing, always remain calm around your pet as they can sense your energy. You want to behave as you normally would to show your pet there is nothing to worry about.
Anxiety Medication Options
For dogs on as-needed anxiety medications, administer about 90 minutes before the scheduled alarm. If your dog does not take prescribed anxiety medications, you can look into CBD products or pheromones that are designed to help animals calm down in stressful or scary situations. If you live in a Bark Building, residents get 25% off all PetReleaf CBD products through our resident Perks page on your community pet portal! Always consult with a vet before giving your dog any over-the-counter remedies.
For cat owners, using a calming pheromone such as Feliway may also be helpful to spray in advance of the alarm. Spray the pheromone in the room where your cat will be staying and directly onto their bedding, you can use this spray on their collar as well.
Soundproof Crate or Safe Room
Soundproofing a dog crate is a great way to reduce noise levels for your pup and make them feel safe. By using absorption sheets or moving blankets, you can line the outside of the crate to protect your pet from scary noises. For smaller dogs, you can take a sock, cut off the toe part, and slide the sock over the dog's head to cover the ears and provide some noise dampening. They may look funny after you do this, but any help in muffling those loud sounds will outweigh their new silly accessory!
For cat owners, consider keeping your cat in a room without an alarm present and provide burrowing materials such as thick blankets and or towels, so they have a place to hide and help dampen the noise.
Provide Snug Fitting Clothing
Snug-fitting clothing may sometimes soothe dogs and make them feel less anxious, so consider putting a thundershirt or snug sweater on your dog before fire alarm testing begins. Having snug fit clothing provides a gentle compression around the body to help produce oxytocin, a calming hormone. It is similar to swaddling a baby or receiving a big hug! You can also try towel wrapping as it allows for the same comfort level and will help them feel less anxious or frightened.
Provide Frequent Potty Breaks/Exercise
Some dogs may eliminate out of fear, so make sure your dog receives frequent potty breaks. If you cannot stay home, ensure you have secured a reliable dog walker for your pup during alarm testing. This will help them receive the exercise they need to help keep the stress under control. If you live in a Bark Building, you can reach out to your pet concierge to provide suggestions for nearby day care or walking services.
Acclimate to the Noise
Fire alarm testing will always happen, and it is important to acclimate your pets to unfamiliar noises. You can work on slowly diffusing their fear of the alarm by exposing them first to the low level of the sound and making your way up by increasing the frequency of the noise. Make sure to look out for stressors in your pet as they are adjusting to the unfamiliar sound. As they become unbothered by it, always make sure to praise them or offer a high-value treat.
We’re happy to provide you with tips to help your pet feel calmer and less stressed out during fire alarm testing! If you have any additional questions about reducing your pet’s stress, consider reaching out to your Pet Concierge. Also, follow @BarkBuildings on Instagram to stay updated with the latest tips if you don't already!