Dogs and Fireworks: 9 Tips to Celebrate the Fourth of July Safely
“The Fourth of July” is a dirty word around my house. Every year, the impending holiday brings equal amounts of concern, hope, and dread. Maybe you know what I’m talking about, or maybe you are lucky enough to have a dog that isn’t sound sensitive. Sound sensitive dogs will sometimes try to hide, shake in fear, refuse to eat and drink, run away, or try to dig their way to the South Pacific, starting with your couch, when they hear fireworks.
It’s not their fault. As puppies, dogs have a window of time where they become habituated to various sounds, textures, environments, and even being handled. This sensitive period occurs between 3 weeks and 14 weeks. Dogs that don’t become habituated to loud bangs and flashing lights during this time may have difficulty handling fireworks. If your dog didn’t get that socialization and is sound sensitive, there are ways to help your pup survive and thrive over the Fourth of July holiday season.
Here are nine things that you can do to help your pup feel safe, prevent your dog from getting lost, and, if your dog does head for the hills, bring your loved one back home safely.
1. Keep your Dog Away From the Fireworks
Are your human kids looking forward to causing small explosions and lighting up the sky? Keep your dog inside the house and try to keep your fireworks play away from the home.
2. Leave Your Pup at Home
You will be invited to backyard barbecues or to lay out a blanket with friends to watch the local fireworks display. It’s tempting to bring your furry best friend along to run around and have fun, but not this time. Shelters fill up with lost dogs around July 4th; don’t let your dog be one of them. Home is the BEST place for your dog to be.
3. Update Your Microchip Info
If your dog does become lost, animal control will scan his/her microchip to help bring your dog home. They can’t accomplish this if the microchip has old contact details, or worse yet, the contact details of the previous animal guardian.
4. Make Sure Your Dog Has an ID Tag On His/Her Collar
Oftentimes the first person to find your dog will be someone out walking their dog. The average person will carry a cellphone with them, not a microchip scanner. Having your contact details on your dog’s collar increases the chances that you’ll get a phone call from a nice neighbor that saved your dog from getting run over.
5. House guests Need to Know the Rules
Planning on having guests come over to your get-together? Make sure that everyone knows that you have a dog (and cats too!), and to keep all doors and gates shut. It’s so easy for a friend to leave the gate open because they are carrying a bunch of food and drinks in from their car.
6. Play Calm Music Loudly
Studies have shown that playing classical music helps keep dogs calm. Tell Alexa to play Vivaldi at volume 8, to drown out some of the firecracker noise from the neighbors.
7. Create a Safe Retreat
Your dog may want to run and hide. Create a safe hiding spot with a dark bathroom, a kennel with a blanket on top, or even a dog bed under the kitchen table. You can put special treats, toys, and things that smell like you inside to help your dog feel more comfortable.
8. Provide Lots of Exercise Prior to Sundown
Today is the day to go for that long hike that you’ve been thinking about, or to play at the large dog park for hours while you chat with other pet parents. Your dog is more likely to sleep and stay chill during the chaotic fun.
9. Talk to Your Vet About Medication
Does your dog have a history of being terrified on the Fourth of July? There is no shame in asking for help! Talk to your vet about the behaviors you’ve witnessed and what you’ve tried before. Your pup may be a candidate for medication. There are many levels of medication too, so, if what you tried last year didn’t work, let your vet know. On a personal note, my vet and I changed to stronger medication this year. It was $6, and we have enough to last the days around the Fourth of July, and the bad summer thunderstorms too.
I hope that this helps you and your dog have a safer and better Fourth of July.
How does your dog do with the fireworks? Share your adventure with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by tagging #MamaWalksDogs. Got ideas, suggestions, or wanna share your experience? Comment below!
With puppy and kitty love,
Lily the Dog Mama