The 4th of July is a day Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is a document which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. It states that men are created equal and have “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” You might say that on the 4th of July every year, we express that right to pursue happiness through events such as barbeques, concerts, carnivals, and fireworks displays. While these events are fun for the family, there is one family member that it may not be as fun for. That is right, the family dog! So, how do you keep your dog safe while still enjoying the festivities?
Dog Safety Tips
If you are anything like me, you want to take your pups everywhere with you. However, on the 4th of July, you may want to consider leaving them at home. If you decide to leave them home, leave them in a safe room where they are secure and cannot get out. Leave the TV or radio on to drown out any noise they may hear from surrounding fireworks. If you decide to take them with you, I suggest having their leash tethered to a harness rather than a collar. This will make your hold more secure in the event they get spooked. Since there will likely be a lot going on, be sure to watch your dog closely. Food will be dropped so you want to be sure they do not eat anything potentially harmful to them. We all know the curious nature of dogs and this curious nature does not mix well with some foods. It also does not mix well with charcoal, sparklers, and similar objects that can hurt your pup so keep them away from these types of objects. Finally, keep alcohol away from your dog. Did you know that alcohol is toxic to your dog? That’s right! But this does not mean you need to freak if Fido takes a lick of your beer. Just like with humans, weight plays a role in alcohol toxicity in dogs. Whether or not you decide to bring them with you, be sure they are microchipped and have ID tags. Make sure the information on their microchips and ID tags is up to date. Another good tip is to make sure you have up to date photos of your pup just in case they do get spooked and somehow get out of the house or run away.
For tips on how to keep your pet cool during the festivities, read this post: https://thefrenchiemamablog.com/2021/05/15/summertime-with-your-frenchie/
One last but important tip is if you do not know if your dog is afraid of fireworks, you must take extra precautions to ensure your pup remains calm and does not dart off. I will talk about ways to keep them calm a little later. First, let’s talk about why dogs are afraid of fireworks.
Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?
Think about it. If you heard a loud banging noise coming from the sky and had no idea what it was, wouldn’t you be scared? That’s exactly what’s going on here. Dogs do not know what fireworks are and they have an acute sense of hearing making them more sensitive to the loud sounds that come from fireworks. Dogs see these sounds as a threat which elicits a fight or flight response. The fight or flight response has been advantageous to the survival of members of the animal kingdom therefore it has maintained an evolutionary advantage. Because of this, it is a strong response and one that may be over exaggerated in an anxious animal. This is the reason many dogs run away during fireworks displays. In fact, more dogs are lost from July 4th through July 6th than any other time of the year. So, what can you do to keep your dog calm and keep them from running off?
How to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
The best way to ensure your dog does not run off during a fireworks display is to make sure they are not afraid of the fireworks in the first place. If you have a young dog, it is a good idea to start desensitizing them to loud noises such as fireworks. How do you do this? Why, by behavioral modification methods of course! You can start by playing a video of a fireworks display at a low sound level. If your dog does not react and remains calm, praise them and give them a treat. If they do react, lower the sound. While they are remaining calm, slowly increase the sound level and praise and reward each time they remain calm. You will want to repeat this process for several days to ensure your dog remains comfortable with the noises. So, what if your dog is already afraid of fireworks? How do you keep them calm? Well, every dog is different of course, but there are some things you can try such as thunder shirts like this Thundershirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket or calming treats such as these Zesty Paws Calming Bites for Dogs- with Chamomile, L Theanine, Thiamine & Magnesium – Dog Stress Relief Supplement – Helps to Calm Anxiety & Barking – Peanut Butter – 90 Soft Chews. Making them as comfortable as possible is the key. If they have a favorite blanket or toy, give it to them. Try to keep them as far away from the sound as possible. If you can go inside a building, do that. Remember that dogs are den animals meaning dens are their safe haven. If you can create a makeshift den, it could help them feel more secure. The most important thing you can do for them is remain calm yourself. Dogs read your energy well so if you are anxious, they will be even more anxious. Relax, take a deep breath, and talk to them in a calm soothing manner. Be their comfort in this time of fear and unknowingness!
For more tips on behavioral modification, read this post: https://thefrenchiemamablog.com/2020/08/01/behavioral-modification-using-operant-conditioning-training-your-frenchie/
If you need some help with behavioral modification or if you have other ideas to help other readers, please leave a reply below.