Dogs and Fireworks on 4th of July

It’s no secret that pets fear fireworks, or for the most part any kind of loud boom sound. As you comb through the internet and browse how to help your pet overcome his or her fear and anxious behavior of these noises, you’ll quickly find that we’re not the only pet-loving guru’s out to make a difference, especially on a holiday like the 4th of July. When it comes down to understanding the “why” on our pet’s flight reaction during these instances, it is important to put yourself in your dogs’ shoes, or paws in this case. Your dog and has a fight, flight, avoid and surrender mechanism within them, that, without proper training will react to one of these four circumstances. Fireworks, thunderstorms, and/or any loud noise is a very stressful and terrifying experience for your pet. The good news is that there are certain precautions and training that can help your pet get through these times of anxiousness. Here are 9 proven methods that can help your dog get through our Independence Day.

#1 – Keep Your Dog Indoors

The sound of fireworks can be loud and even to the average Joe, can be frightening at times. It’s important to keep your dog indoors during the proximity time of the fireworks show or peak hours of fireworks going off on the 4th of July. If outdoors, dogs will often bolt and run for their lives during these times. More pets end up in shelters during and after the 4th of July than any other time of the year because of fireworks.

#2 – Create A Comfort Zone.

Your dog, just like you, loves to have a quiet and comfy spot that he/she can retreat to, whether it be just a quiet lazy time, tired and resting time, or an anxious and stressful time. Your dog will always find this safe haven in these times of need. Make sure to give your dog that comfort in creating a little extra in his sanctuary for this day.  Give them a favorite chew toy or treat that will keep them entertained for a while. Help your dog by crafting a “den” for them to shelter too. Make sure all curtains and visuals of fireworks or thunderstorms are non-existent and set up a sound system that will generate some white noise that will help drown out the loud sounds.

#3 – Exercise Your Dog Prior to Fireworks

We all know that tiresome feeling from working out and giving yourself that extra push. Make sure your partner in crime (dog) tags along with you and make it a cardio day at that. It’s a proven fact that a tired dog is less likely to get worked up during fireworks and just might even sleep through it.

#4 – Train the Panic of Fireworks Sounds

Counter-conditioning is a well-known process to desensitize your dog to the sounds of fireworks. As previously mentioned, create a comfortable space where your dog is familiar. At a low volume play the sounds of fireworks as distant as possible. Slowly increase the volume to where your dog is non-reactive to the sounds. Now, this is not a guaranteed system and may take some time to condition your dog, but it will certainly make for a much more calming moment for your dog.

#5 – White Noise

There’s nothing like soothing out the sounds of a big boom with a canine lullaby, or for that matter any kind of sound that is boom-related. Leaving your fan, TV, or radio on can help mask the sounds of fireworks and can help soothe your dog during the main event. There are also some music CDs you can purchase called “Through A Dog’s Ear” that have shown to ease and appease your furry friend.

#6 – Stay Home

Staying home is probably your safest bet on keeping your dog calm and cool during fireworks, and your dog is more likely to be more at ease if you are present. Monitor your own energy, if your dog feels that you are stressed out, that energy will transfer over to your pet and make them feel the same way, so, although you may have the impulse to get excited during fireworks, just remember that your furry side-kick isn’t so thrilled.

#7 – Proper ID Tags

Be sure that your dog is wearing proper identification tags. The name of your dog, your name, and your phone number should be visible on ID. Having your dog microchipped is another alternative and making sure that your dog is licensed is a great way of saving some money if your dog does decide to make a run and is picked up by animal control. Another great option is purchasing a digital ID for your dog from PetHub so that if your pet goes missing, shelters within a 50-mile radius will be on the lookout.

#8 – Boarding School

If your plans are to be away for days or for that matter just the night, you might want to consider leaving your dog at a boarding location that he/she is familiar with. Take into account that your dog will be with his/her dog pals and more than likely the boarding site is usually so unexposed to the fireworks that your dog will probably not hear a thing, let alone all the other barking that will drown out any noise.

#9 – Vet Visit

Only you know how anxious your dog will be during fireworks and if severe anxiety is something that has not yet been resolved a visit to the veterinarian might just be for you.  Sedatives can be prescribed to keep your dog calm during the fireworks. The veterinarian might even suggest a “Thundershirt”. A Thundershirt is a vest that provides gentle constant pressure and reduces the dog’s anxiety. Make sure to consult your local veterinarian for any or all of these suggestions.

The 4th of July is a day of celebration and recognition of our freedom. Barbecues, family, friends, and fireworks are likely, and although this day is a day of commemoration, no one will be able to agree with you any less than your four-legged friend, that is, besides barbecue time. Make sure to keep your dogs in mind before, during, and even after the festivities. Leftover items from fireworks or any toxic chemicals that could have been used during the night’s entertainment (Lighter fluids, citronella candles, and insect repellants) should be enclosed and put away for your pet’s safety. In the spirit of our founding forefathers, we wish you a happy 4th of July and a safe and fun summer to go along with it.

Happy 4th of July!

Author: Jorge Gutierrez

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