The Fourth of July is a celebratory moment for us humans, but for our canine companions, it can be one of the most terrifying times of the year. While here in Colorado we’ve had numerous bans on fireworks, there is no doubt that some will not heed the restrictions and for any of you in parts of the country where there is no ban, the pops, whizzes and crackles can equal a ton of stress and anxiety.
How can you make sure your dog is safe and sound? Here are some tips.
- Make sure to tire out your dog as much as you can by exercising and playing as much as possible before the fireworks begin. If your dog is tired, he may not have enough energy or ability to notice the sounds as he would if he had more energy to use to focus on them.
- Keep your dog inside and provide a safe place for him. This may be a crate he already enjoys, or a closet or particular spot in a room where he feels comfortable and secure. Covering his crate may make it more appealing and safe feeling. Leaving your dog out in the yard unsupervised can lead to potential disaster as he may jump, dig or bolt his way out in a panic. Ensure you have proper IDs and tags on him just in case he somehow gets out and loose in the mayhem. Hopefully you also have your dog microchipped (which I highly recommend for all pet parents)!
- Have something for your dog to do, like a stuffed Kong or a treat puzzle game, or even a good-sized bone or dental chew, or a favorite toy. Mentally stimulating him and providing yummy items will keep him preoccupied and hopefully distracted, and may even help forge a positive association with the fireworks.
- Consider using products and methods to relax and desensitize/recondition your dog’s responses to fireworks. Through a Dog’s Ear is a series of audio recordings designed to relax dogs, while you can use famous dog trainer Victoria’ Stillwell‘s Canine Noise Phobia series to work on retraining his responses to noise phobias. Nutri-Vet also makes an array of pills, treats, sprays and diffusers dubbed “Pet Ease” that help decrease anxiety in pets. Also, don’t forget the ever-increasing-in-popularity Thunder Shirt, which fits snuggly on a dog, stimulating points that are naturally relaxing for him.
- Lastly, if this is his first Fourth and you’re not sure how he will react, make sure that, if he does seem scared or reacts in an anxious way, that you do NOT reinforce this behavior by trying to soothe or coddle him. Ignore the behavior and whenever he is calm, then pay attention and reinforce that behavior instead. It is difficult to not want to pick up a dog or pet him to try and calm him, but it is necessary so as not to encourage anxious or scared responses. Only “feed” the behavior you want, so pay tons of attention to him when he is nice and calm, and acting politely!
Need help or have questions? Feel free to contact me!
Here’s to a happy and safe Fourth for all of you,
Owner, Delightful Doggies