Independence Day is a holiday many look forward to. Getting together with family, cooking out, swimming – and best of all, fireworks! However, many individuals might feel stressed knowing the loud explosions affect their dog’s behavior. Here’s a few things we recommend you do to ensure your dog is safe and encourage them to still enjoy this summer holiday!
Check your pup’s collar and ID tag
The number of lost pets increases by 30% between July 4-6, a majority of which occur directly on the Fourth of July. One of the easiest ways you can combat this is to make sure your dog is wearing a properly fitted collar with an up-to-date ID tag. We recommend a martingale collar (should only be worn by your dog when supervised) or a leather collar. When properly fitted, you should be able to sit 2-3 fingers snugly between the collar and your dog’s skin. You could also look into equipping your dog with an Apple Air Tag, or consulting with your Vet about microchipping your dog (an easy, quick, and painless safety measure!)
Keep a close eye on them
Feel free to take your dog along for the pre-fireworks barbecues, but keep a close eye on them so they don’t get into or eat anything they shouldn’t. We recommend keeping a leash on your dog so you can monitor them, especially if they tend to stand on your counters to scavenge for food in your home. Guests, friends, or family members might be tempted to offer them a piece of their human food or your dog might beg for it. Common Independence Day foods you for sure want to keep away from your dog are onions, avocados, grapes, and raisins. Instead, keep a small bag of your dog’s food or favorite treats with you to reward them for good behavior or to offer to any family or friends who want to give them a snack!
Exercising your pup before the festivities
Go out, especially earlier in the day before festivities start, and exercise your pup! Going for a long walk, jogging or running, playing fetch, hiking, biking, etc. are all great ways to physically stimulate your dog. Indoor activities like fetch, tug, frozen Kongs, hiding treats or toys for your dog to find, or using a snuffle mat are effective options for mental stimulation. This will mentally and physically stimulate your dog and make it more likely that by the time the fireworks begin, your dog is ready to lay down and relax for the rest of the evening.
Keep your pup inside
Do not do fireworks when your dog is present, even small sparklers, so they are not at risk of getting burned. We recommend keeping your dog at home when the fireworks come out, so the big crowds and loud noises don’t encourage them to run away. At home, you can ensure they are safe and comfortable.
Creating a calm atmosphere
If you are staying home with your dog, create a positive and comfortable atmosphere before the fireworks start and maintain it until you are ready to go to bed. Keep your windows secured and the curtains closed. You can drown out the noise outside by having the TV or radio on, doing a load of dishes or laundry, or using a white noise machine. Feeding their dinner during this time, or preparing a frozen Kong with treats like peanut butter, rotisserie chicken, and extra yummy goodies inside can give your pup something to do for a couple of hours. By creating a positive association with this period of time and acting calm and confident yourself, you can help your dog feel the same!
Create a safe space
If you are not staying home with your dog, create a safe and comfortable space to confine them until you return home. We recommend their crate or a small space with a closed door, like a bathroom. It’s extremely important that if they panic or get frightened at any point that they cannot accidentally harm themselves. Again, you can drown out noise outside by putting a nearby TV or radio on, starting a load of dishes or laundry before you leave, or turning on a white noise machine for them. You can leave them with their favorite blanket, their dinner, or a few of their favorite, durable toys (e.g. Nylabones, antlers, peanut butter-filled cow or femur bones, frozen Kongs). It would be a good idea as well to take them out for an extra potty break before you leave and again once you get home!
If your pup experiences extreme anxiety
Lastly, if you feel your dog has extreme anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Vet for short-term or temporary solutions for the occasional need. To treat the behavior at its core long-term, you can reach out to our behavior consulting team at Beyond the Dog.
The Fourth of July can seem like an infamous holiday, especially for dog owners. But it doesn’t have to be! By preparing accordingly and making sure your dog is identified, secured and managed, and comfortable, you AND your dog can enjoy the entire day stress-free. Together, we can continue to reduce the number of lost dogs and educate owners to encourage their dogs to be calm and confident. These safety tips, along with your love and affection, will go a long way to ensure everyone has a happy Independence Day!