Freedom, liberty, independence. All worthy of celebration! But, here’s a surprising fact - more dogs run away on July 4th than any other day of the year. All because of fireworks!
So, how can you keep your dog safe this July 4th?
With enough time, you can recondition your dog to associate the loud booms to a pleasurable action. By playing the recording of firework sounds repeatedly before going outside, meals, or even snuggle/playtime, your dog can learn to look forward to what follows fireworks.
Some canine behavioral experts, like Cesar, recommend playing the recorded sound of fireworks for your dog at an increasingly louder volume for three or four months.
Since we are only a few days out from July 4th, let’s keep that approach in mind for next year. There are still some ways to help your dog prepare for this year’s festivities.
If your house backs up to the city’s display of fireworks, perhaps relocate your dog for the holiday - a friend or family member’s house, or even a doggie day care. Just be sure to acclimate your dog to the new location a few times leading up to the day.
When removing your dog from within earshot of fireworks just isn’t feasible (keep in mind dogs hear noises 4x the distance of humans!) then provide a small, safe place for them to hunker down. For many, this may be their crate with their favorite toys away from windows. For others, this may also involve the use of a “Thundershirt.”
Contrary to popular use, Thundershirts should be placed on your dog prior to them showing the emotional triggers of stress like heaving panting and pacing. Thundershirts should keep them from getting anxious, but can have a tough time calming down an already stressed out dog.
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3) Background noise.
If your dog is used to noise around the house (think TV, music, kids, etc.) then packing up and heading out to a July 4th party leaving them all alone in a quiet house can be a recipe for disaster. In addition to creating a secure space for them, put on some background noise to entertain their mind.
Take your pup out for a long walk/run, or go throw the frisbee. Do anything in your power to help them relieve extra energy that afternoon. Your dog is much more likely to be relaxed that evening if they are exhausted from the day's events.
5) Remain Calm.
Pass along the message through your tone and body language that everything is just fine. Showing anxious, worried thoughts on your face and through your voice communicates a high energy to dogs. If you make a big deal out of the fireworks, then they are going to pick up on those cues and become concerned along with you.
This can be a tricky balance if you have young ones at home. Your excitement to show your kiddos the fireworks, can rub off the wrong way on your dog. So, keep that in mind and perhaps attend a local viewing of the fireworks elsewhere in the city.
We hope these 5 tips will help you manage your dog’s stress this fireworks season, but more importantly keep your dog safe! Feel free to message us with any additional questions as we are here for you for the life of your pet.