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  • Writer's pictureLily Wear

Surviving the 4th of July: Coping with Fireworks Anxiety

The Fourth of July has many unfamiliar sounds, smells, and sights to dogs: the pops and explosions, smells of burning gunpowder, excited people gathering and getting goofy. Some dogs may seemed completely unfazed, others show signs of nervousness, and then there are those that are absolutely terrified. It can be very stressful for many dogs and their humans too.

Family watching fireworks, but the dog is safe at home
Family watching fireworks, but the dog is safe at home

Here are some tips for pet parents to help their fur babies safely survive the


1. Dogs Should Stay Home

If this one upsets you, sorry, but not sorry... The safest place for your dog on the Fourth of July is at home. Yes, many people take their dogs to parks and barbeques. Obviously not every time will your dog run off, but it only takes once to lose the furry love of your life.

Make sure your dog is inside your home, in a quiet and comfortable room. Keep the windows and curtains closed to help reduce the noise from outside.

Have company coming over? Make sure they know to keep all doors and gates closed. One of the most common reasons dogs go running in the night on July 4th is because a house guest didn't close the gate.

2. A Safe Place

Provide a crate or a comfortable space for your dog to retreat to if they

become frightened or anxious. This is your dog's safe place, so make sure it has soft blankets or maybe an extra cozy dog bed.

For dogs that have a history of fireworks anxiety, we recommend having a safe place in each room of the house if possible. That way your pup can stay close to the family. Behind the couch, under a table with a blanket on top, or in a closet are great places for your pup to cozy up and hide out.

3. Distraction

Provide your dog with some distractions, like their favorite toys or treats, to help

them focus on something else. Peanut butter or cheese filled kongs, bully sticks, and filled bones are long lasting treats that can help your pup think of tastiness instead of scary boom-booms.

For dogs that only show moderate to mild anxiety, playing fetch or doing some treat training are fantastic distractions!

4. Exercise, Exercise, and More Exercise (before fireworks o'clock)

Dogs Running
Dogs Running

Take your dog for a long walk or run earlier in the day, to help them burn off some energy and reduce stress. For severe anxiety cases, maybe a hike followed by a dog park trip? You don't want your pup feeling scared AND have an abundance of energy.

5. Calming Products

Consider using calming products like a Thundershirt, natural calming

supplements (CBD anyone?), or even medication prescribed by your vet to help your dog relax. Make sure to always check with your veterinarian for recommendations.

6. Update Identification

Dog wearing Id Tags

Before the big day, make sure your dog has ID tags attached to their collar with your correct contact information. That way if your pup does escape, anyone that finds your dog can contact you right away. If the collar comes off, the second step is to make sure your fur-baby is microchipped. If your pup already has a microchip, choose a day before July 4th as your annual microchip check-up day. Log in to your micro-chip website and make sure your contact details are correct.

7. Stay Calm

Dogs can pick up on their owner's emotions, so try to remain calm and relaxed to

help your dog feel safe. Your pup will be looking to you as an example of what to do on the scariest night of the year.

Dog Mom cuddling black lab

The first 4th of July with my dog Odin was a nightmare. He showed me the raw terror that many dogs feel when we celebrate our country's birthday, as we snuggled together on the cold tiled floor of my kitchen. I sobbed helpless tears as my dog cried and shook. I will never forget that awful night and hope that the strategies we've developed over the years can help you and your pup too. Please feel free to reach out if you'd like some advice or a listening ear. You and your pup are not alone, and yes, it can get better.

With puppy and kitty love,

Lily the Dog Mama

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