The 4th of July is nearly here, are you and your dog ready?
As you probably are aware, many dogs are quite fearful of fireworks and many end up lost during this holiday. Animal control reports that between July 4-6th they see an increase in lost dogs by 30-60%, pretty darn crazy if you ask me.
Here are 4 ways to help your dog through the holiday.
A tired dog won’t have as much energy to worry about the booms.
- Remember that a long walk in a new location adds a lil extra mental stimulation to the walk. You can also add a backpack, add extra obedience moves like hopping up on objects and down stays around distractions.
If your neighborhood or regular walking locations enjoys celebrating with fireworks during daylight hours you may want to play it safe and keep walks to leashed walks incase you run into any loud surprises. Better safe than sorry.
- Have a treadmill? Treadmill time can be another great way to exercise your pups. Take introductions to the treadmill slow, and make it positive with lots of high value treats in the beginning.
- Practice your obedience indoors. If you are worried about the outdoors possibly spooking your dog you can always take a walk inside. It can be in your home, working sits, downs, stays around the house. You can also visit dog friendly stores where the festivities will be harder to hear, and it’s a great option when it’s hot out too.
- Keep your exercise to daylight hours. As dusk approaches so will the festivities, so if it means getting up a bit earlier to get more of a walk in be prepared.
- Make sure you have a secure collar on your dog with your current contact information. Comfortably loose collars are great on the average day but sometimes they get looser than we think so be sure to check the fit of your dog’s collar. If you have recently moved and don’t have current tags, run out to your local vet or pet store and snag some of the made on site tags. For future collars I prefer the brass plates for secure collars since they don’t dangle. The Day Glo and Leather Feel collars are our go to collars for outdoor excursions. For those who switch collars often but still want to avoid the jingle Boomerang Tags are a great option. There are also all sorts of embroidered dog collars out there these days too. If you want to get really fancy visit Etsy there are all sorts of shops making dog collars.
- Is your dog microchipped?? If not I am sure your vet or even many shelters would be happy to help you chip your dog. I have assisted with quite a few and it’s not as bad as some make it out to be. Most of the dogs don’t even notice it happening. The chips have gotten smaller too and new technology is helping them stay in place better though that was never all that big of an issue. Really there is no reason to not chip these days as it’s one of the first things people will check besides tags. If your dog IS chipped make sure your contact information is up to date on their server.
3. Safe & Calm
- Create a safe secure place for your dog if they show signs of anxiety. Some prefer their crate, some go under the bed and some like the bathtub. If they show that they have a location they prefer make it comfortable and secure for them.
- Create calm and relaxation. You can play music to help drown out the noise, white noise machines can help too. There are even CDs made to appeal to dogs called Through a Dog’s Ear, if your dog is anxious and nervous on a regular basis these may be something you want to look into for stressful situations.
- Essential oils can help pets stay calm and relaxed too. Oils like Lavender, Cedarwood, Orange, Peace & Calming blend, Valor, T-Away, and Stress Away Blend are all oils that have helped many dogs relax in stressful situations like storms and fireworks. Quality is very important with essential oils, keep in mind that if they are being applied to the skin through petting and sprays they are technically being ingested too so you want to know what is in the essential oils. I use Young Living essential oils for my human and canine family, if you would like more info on essential oils feel free to contact me.
- There are also many calm chews for dogs out there these days too which are worth a try for stressful situations. I also like Rescue Remedy products, they helped my old dogs during thunderstorms as they became more senile. DAP or Adaptil which are dog appeasing pheromones are also worth a shot. They have plug ins, collars, and sprays utilizing these pheromones to encourage a calm state.
- Be sure to look over your fenced yard and make sure there are no holes in the fence and that any gates and doors are latched securely. I would suggest you take your dog out to potty on leash as fear can make dogs do crazy things like jump fences so until you know how your dog will handle the festivities it’s best to keep them on leash and for the flightily dogs have a secure collar like a slip collar or martingale too that they can’t back out of.
4. Distraction and Fun
- If your dog does show signs of anxiety adding some fun distractions like a new tasty chew, stuffed frozen kong, or a new special 4th of July toy can help take their mind off their fear. Play games with your pup or teach them a new trick with special high value treats. The Canine Mind and Lab Med have some great kong stuffing recipes, if you haven’t used kongs before keep it simple with your pup. Apply to the rim, then add a little inside until they get better and better at licking the kong clean.
- When your dog is fearful and anxious it’s best to NOT swoop in like their hero and coddle and worry all over them. This can backfire and actually make them think there is more to worry about than there really is. So it’s best to stay calm, reassuring them with calm petting or allowing them to be close but not all over you is all they need.
- A fun desensitizing game to try is whenever they hear a boom you can throw a lil party and scatter treats all over the floor for them to find. It can help create a positive association to the noise. This won’t work for dogs who are very nervous, sometimes all you can do is just get through it.
I personally love the holiday, being a wannabe pyrotechnic since I was little, as do my pups. They get very excited over fireworks, maybe my love for them has worn off on them, most likely the introduction to gunshots in relation to bird hunting helped with that. I actually have to be careful with them due to their excitement and lack of fear on the whole, but I much rather have that than the fear so many have to deal with.
I hope you all have a happy and safe 4th of July.