The 4th of July is upon us. That means family, fun, and fireworks. If you have a dog however, the fireworks part of the holiday can be a very stressful time for both you and your fur baby.
Veterinarians will tell you that July 3rd is usually one of the heaviest traffic days in their offices, with people coming in to get drugs to help calm their dogs. This is also the busiest time of the year for animal shelters, as more dogs are found wandering loose and frightened on July 4th than any other day of the year.
So what can you do? Most of the time, there simply is no way to completely calm a dog that is afraid of the loud bangs and booms associated with fireworks. But if you prepare a bit in advance, as well as follow some simple tips during the fireworks themselves, you can make the holiday a lot less stressful for both of you.
1. Get your dog plenty of exercise early in the day. They will be worn out and feel much calmer than if they had been inactive all day.
2. Keep your dog indoors during any fireworks, and if possible, with a human companion. You are your dogs best friend and the biggest source of comfort they have in life. Just the act of being there with them can dramatically lower the stress level.
3. Give your dogs a comfortable, secure place where they can feel safe. If they like a crate, make sure one is accessible and perhaps even cover it with a blanket. If they prefer to hide in a bathtub or under the bed, make sure the doors to those rooms are open. Remember, dogs are den dwellers and prefer small, enclosed areas.
4. Whenever possible, keep windows and blinds closed. Sometimes even the visual of the fireworks can disorient a dog.
5. Turn on the TV or some music for them. The sounds from what you are playing will help drown out the commotion that’s happening outside.
6. Create a diversion. A frozen Kong or other long lasting treat is fun and will distract them from the activity outdoors as they focus on the special gift you gave them.
7. Act normal. Dogs can sense when something is off. Remain calm and happy even before the show so they don’t suspect that something is up.
8. Keep them watered. When dogs are panicked, they pant a lot which is how they sweat. Make sure they have plenty of water to keep them cool and hydrated.
9. Introduce a scent. Many natural and herbal retailers sell dog calming scents in a variety of forms. Read the reviews of the product you are considering before you purchase.
10. Be understanding. The worst thing you can do is scold your dog for being afraid or force him/her from their secure spot. Let them ride it out their own way and things will return to normal much quicker.
The most important thing to remember is that during the 4th of July, dogs have a tendency to become escape artists. Make sure your dog has a collar with tags on, or better yet, have them micro-chipped. Should they pull a Houdini, your chances of getting them back dramatically increase.
Hopefully these tips will help the whole family avoid some unneeded stress and you can spend the holiday enjoying everything that comes along with it.
Happy 4th of July!