If you ask most animal shelter employees and volunteers what the busiest day of the year is, most will tell you the 5th of July. While everyone else is relaxing after a fun holiday, many pet owners spend their day desperately searching for their missing dog. In fact the lost-pet rate increases to 60% each year between 4th and 6th of July.
Fireworks might be enjoyable for humans, but animals find them noisy and terrifying. The smell, sound, and bright flashing lights of fireworks can cause panic in pets. They don’t understand that we’re celebrating the birth of our nation. It’s a horrible holiday for them.
Please take a moment this 4th of July to consider how your dog might be affected by the festivities, especially if you have a relatively new dog. Fireworks can cause him to shut down completely if he hasn’t settled into your family yet.
The potential for someone to get nipped or bit is also greater when a dog is anxious. Their behavior can become unpredictable and even dangerous.
Here are nine tips that can help minimize your dog’s stress during the holiday.
1. Keep your dog on the leash.
When dogs are panicked, they can easily jump or break a fence that they would normally never challenge. They will break out of an electrical fence, and chew through crates and even walls, if necessary. If they have to be outside, keep them on a leash at all times.
2. Check dog tags and microchip information.
When a dog runs off, it’s very common for someone to find him and bring him to the vet to see if he’s chipped. If the address or phone numbers aren’t up-to-date, there won’t be any way to get in touch with you.
3. Exercise your dog
with a brisk walk or run a couple of hours before the fireworks start. If a dog is tired, he is less likely to get stressed out.
4. Try a natural calming remedy and white noise
There are many natural over-the-counter options for scared dogs. Body wraps like Thunder Shirts apply a gentle pressure to the dog’s torso that they find soothing. There are also calming chew tablets and herbal products like Rescue Remedy that have been found to be effective. White noise will override the remote thunder noise.
5. Let him hide in a safe space.
If your dog hides out when he’s scared, it’s only natural to want to bring him out and comfort him. NEVER try to remove your dog from his hiding space when he is stressed. It’s a good way to get bit. Leave him water nearby and try to make the area as relaxing as possible. Something that generates noise, like a fan, can also help him feel safe.
6. Stay home.
If you have a dog that is completely traumatized by fireworks, it’s probably best to either stay home with him, or take him somewhere that is far away from any firework displays or kids playing with firecrackers. Boarding a dog with trauma can be challenging, for both dog and facility.
7. Stay calm and act natural.
Dogs pick up on the energy, emotional state, and actions of their owners. Try to keep a normal routine throughout the holiday, so your dog doesn’t get overstimulated.
8. Keep your dog in a safe place.
If a dog is properly crate trained, they will find their crate to be a safe, enjoyable place to be. Stock the crate with a soft bed or blanket, plenty of water, snacks, and a favorite toy.
9. Make sure gates and windows are secured,
for a couple of days after the festivities. People can play with leftover fireworks after the holiday, and sudden booms and bangs can stress your dog out all over again.
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About the Author: Roman Gottfried is an internationally renowned holistic training and behavior expert. He works with rescues, shelters and dog parents worldwide to help their dogs reach their full potential, by teaching them the holistic philosophy of dog training. He sees clients online and in-person. For more information, please visit his website http://www.romansk9training.com.