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  • Writer's picturebrettshelbytrainer

Fireworks and your Dog

How to prepare for the 4th of July if your dog has a problem with fireworks.

June is coming to a close, kids are out for the summer and you can smell the BBQ's cooking burgers and dogs on every block. The days are warm but the evenings are usually cool and peaceful so everyone is outside making it one of the best times of the year, for most.

Just around the corner is a great holiday that most Americans are looking forward to, Independence day on July 4th. We get to spend the day outside with family and friends eating, drinking, playing yard games and more. And for many the party doesn't end when the sun goes down, it gets started. The darkness means Fireworks!! Huge bright and intense explosions of many brilliant varied colors in cool shapes and designs. I love thinking of the movie "The Sandlot", where the 4th of July was the only time of the year they could play night games, but even in the middle of playing their favorite game of all time, they would stop to watch the marvel of fireworks. Who doesn't love them!! Dogs!!.

Even with all of this allure and elegance most dogs become extremely fearful of fireworks. Whether it is the sound, the earth shaking vibrations or the flashing lights most dogs have serious issues with them. So, what can we do about it? Well, I don't think we are going to ban fireworks so what can we do with/ for our K-9 companions? There are a variety of ways to look to ease their stress and work with them.

Many times the best way to "deal" with your dogs fear of fireworks is not to expose your pup to them. Look up when and where the local fireworks shows are being held and avoid them.

Some dogs get so afraid that they run away in panic. This makes things tough because no matter how responsive they be normally, if they get panicked you run a huge risk of losing your dog. So make sure that your 4- legged furry family member is wearing their tags and/or their microchip is updated.

You may wish to keep your dog in a more save and secure location. Indoors in their home would be best. But a crate can keep them from getting lost or hurting themselves and sometimes a car can work in a pinch.

Before the fireworks:

  • Fill up your dogs water bowl. If they are anxious they may become thirsty.

  • Feed your dog earlier then usual. When the fireworks start your dog may be too anxious to eat or may vomit up their food.

  • Grant your dog the opportunity to go to the bathroom before the fireworks. This way they also don't urinate or defecate themselves in fear.

  • Make sure you shut all doors and windows in your home and don’t forget to close the curtains. This will block out any flashes of light and reduce the noise level of the fireworks.

  • Make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if they feel scared. Make sure to fill it with their favorite blankets, toys, or an item of unwashed clothing, as these may help them feel safe.

During the fireworks:

  • Try to keep their ears and mind occupied by playing noise canceling sounds, white noise or music so they are less affected by the sounds.

  • Try to act and behave as normal as possible. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog.

  • If your dog chooses to hide or comes to you for comfort, don't just coddle them. You will be rewarding the fear response. Try to talking happily and cheerful. Ignoring your dog could also only make things worse.

  • Always reward calm behavior with dog treats or playing.

  • Do not force your dog to face these fears – they may become more frightened. We can't explain how fireworks work in words that they can understand.

  • Don't get mad or disappointed at your dog for showing fear during fireworks. It is a very natural response that all animals will/should show.

  • If you need to open the front door, shut your dog safely inside a room first.

  • You can try a Thunder Vest for these times but I would still take other precautions.

I wouldn't:

  • I wouldn't take my dog to a firework display, even if he/she does not bark or whimper, don’t assume he/she is happy. Excessive yawning and panting are common symptoms of anxiety

  • I wouldn't tie my dog up while sitting under or being near by some fireworks. If your dog panics and tries running away, they run a serious risk of hurting themselves.

If you are still having serious issues, speak with a professional or ask your vet what you can use to help ease their tension and anxiety.

Fireworks are exceptionally loud and surprising particularly for you furry friends. Let's grant them peace and safety during these times because they deserve it.

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