Happy 4th of July! To many Americans, celebrating Independence Day means family, fun and fireworks. But for many dogs it’s one of the most stressful days of the year. While some are simply frightened by the noise of the holiday, others get anxiety from the flashing lights, crowds and general commotion. In response to the fear they’re experiencing, dogs respond with a fight or flight reaction. Some may bark, shake or hide, while others might show signs of aggression, destruction or even run away.
If your dog is one of the almost 30 percent that suffers anxiety from the sound of fireworks, here are a few suggestions on how to make this holiday easier on them.
If at all possible, keep your dog away from areas where fireworks will be set off. Unfortunately, with simple firecrackers to large-scale rockets readily available for anyone to buy, it’s not just big displays that are a concern anymore. And it seems the 4th of July festivities are no longer limited to one day. The quiet of Sarasota Dog Wizard’s neighborhood is already being filled by the sound of loud bangs and booms! But crowed events and close proximity to firework displays can be too much for even the calmest of dog.
Tire them out
Exercise and high-energy activity is a natural sedative for dogs. Go for a long walk or take a trip to the dog park before sundown. Just remember, many people start setting off fireworks long before dark so be prepared for sudden, unexpected noises. Use a harness instead of a regular collar they might have a chance of slipping out.
Provide a safe and calm environment
Always keep high-anxiety dogs inside during fireworks and never leave them unattended when taking them outside on potty breaks. Even dogs who have never escaped before, may do so in time of high stress. Being in a crate comforts many dogs and they should be allowed to retreat to that safety zone or anywhere else they feel secure. Surround your dog with a favorite toy or familiar blanket and turn up some music or the TV to distract from the noise of the festivities. If you plan to be out for the evening of the 4th, consider having a friend, family member or even a dog sitter stay with your dog.
If you are going to be home with your dog, it’s important not to scold or even coddle their behavior. Maintain a calm, cool demeanor. Dogs communicate with energy and if you’re anxious, they’re anxious.
Some dogs are comforted by thundershirts. At Sarasota Dog Wizard we recommend The ThunderShirt. Keep in mind though that not all dogs are helped by any one solution so be prepared with other options if this tool doesn’t help.
If you do find it necessary to use sedation, make sure you don’t wait until your dog is already in an anxious state of mind before you introduce the medication. And never give your dog any medication that hasn’t been recommend or prescribed by your vet.
Keep ID tags current
The 5th of July is one of the highest stray-intake days at shelters. Pets without up-to-date tags fill shelters every year and sadly, many likely have loving owners that they are never reunited with. Always leave your dog’s collar on and make sure tag information is correct. It’s a great idea to have your pet micro-chipped but be sure to make a quick call to the chip company to confirm your information is accurate.
Sarasota Dog Wizard wishes you a safe holiday weekend. These tips and tricks will help in the moment, but proper training and long-term desensitization is necessary for the health, safety and lifelong happiness of your pet. The trained professionals of The Dog Wizard would love to teach you and your pet how to overcome the fear together.