Many dog owners dread July 4th, for their dog's sake. The loud noises can make dogs nervous and even fearful. Keeping your dog calm can be difficult. There are some simple things to make sure your dog feels safe and secure over the holiday.
If you've read our article on what to do if your dog is afraid of thunder, many of the same ideas apply. If you haven't already, you may want to read it.
Keeping Your Dog Calm
The best solution, if you can afford it, is to board your dog on July 4th, preferably in an area where there won't be fireworks. We usually take our pet to the PetSmart PetHotel where she enjoys a quiet, carefree overnight stay.
Desensitization to Loud Noises
The ideal long-term solution is desensitization. There are commercially available CDs to desensitize your dog to loud noises. They generally include firework sounds, thunderstorms, loud city traffic, airplanes, vacuum sounds, and the like. You start the process of desensitizing your dog to the sounds by playing them at low volume and gradually raise the volume as the dog gets more comfortable with the noise.
Another technique is to drown out the sound of fireworks with music, the tv, the white noise of air conditioning or fans, or other soothing sounds.
The Thundershirt is another good solution that will give your dog a feeling of reassurance. This works great for our dog who is very sensitive to thunder and fireworks. Normally, he'll run and hide in the upstairs closet when scared by loud noises. With the Thundershirt, he is calm enough to stay downstairs and weather the storm (or fireworks) with us.
Be sure to have a “safe place” your dog can retreat to if they become too nervous. Something dark and den-like, perhaps a crate with a blanket on top, would be ideal. There are covered dog beds available that are ideal for this purpose.
Keep your dog occupied with play time. If need be, add treats to the mix to keep their focus on fun and not on fear. For years the Kong Quest Bone filled with peanut butter did a great job of keeping our dog preoccupied, but it is no longer on the market. Now, we simply use a regular Kong filled with treats and peanut butter.
Licking mats are also a big hit in our house.
Other Tips To Keep Your Dog Safe And Calm
Give your plenty of exercise and opportunities to do their business before fireworks start, so you can keep them inside.
Keep windows, curtains/blinds, and doors closed to minimize the sound getting into your home.
As a last resort, you can sedate your dog. Talk to your vet about alternatives like Benadryl or other medications for keeping your dog calm.
Whatever you do, resist the temptation to coddle your dog if they come running to you. It just reinforces their feelings of fear.
Be sure to keep your dog's collar on to make sure they can be brought back to you should they somehow escape. Microchipping your pet would also be an excellent idea. More pets are lost on July 4th than any other time of the year because they try to escape from the noise.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July with your canine friends!
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