For some people, the scariest day of the year is Halloween. For others, it may be their birthday (one year closer to the grave – horrifying!!). But for a lot of dogs, the scariest day of the year is July 4th (or any other holiday with fireworks, like New Year’s Eve). Year after year, July 5th has proved to be the busiest day for cities to pick up dogs off the street and for owners to be making lost dog signs. Why? Because of the fireworks.
I remember being terrified of fireworks when I was little but I grew out of that once I understood what they really are. Dogs don’t ever get that knowledge or reassurance. To them, fireworks are loud bursts of noise echoing in the night followed by spontaneous fire in the sky. The world is ending! In the midst of the anxiety, fear and stress dogs must find a way to cope whether by hiding or running. Dogs dig and jump their way out of yards, not realizing that escape from the yard doesn’t lead to safety. It’s a distressing situation for them, and even more so for their owners once they realize their pet has vanished into the night. But there are some things you can do to prevent (or at least minimize) the stress and fear associated with this noisy holiday.
Here are some tips to keep your pup safe:
- Get your dog plenty of exercise prior to the festivities. A tired dog doesn’t have much energy to waste on being afraid.
- Do NOT leave your dog outside – even if he is an outdoor dog. Dogs that are scared throw caution to the wind and will do anything in their power to escape. This includes digging holes, jumping fences and even ripping off fence boards with their teeth.
- If your dog likes his crate, put him in the crate if you’re leaving for the evening. Dogs usually see their crates as a safe place and will be comfortable in their space. Be sure the kennel is secured and feel free to leave some tasty treats, like frozen Kongs. If you know your dog is extremely nervous or scared of loud noises, this may not be a safe option as he may hurt himself trying to escape the crate.
- Be sure your dog is wearing some sort of identification. If lost and found, this will make your pup’s journey back home much quicker. Even better, get your dog microchipped. This way, if he loses his collar, he can still be identified.
- Create a relaxing environment for your dog. Leave the TV or radio on to drown out some of the noise. Diffuse the air with some essential oils or other calming mists. Adaptil makes a great dog pheromone imitator to help relax dogs. You can diffuse essential oils or rub some oil on your dog’s paws or bedding. A few I recommend are Young Living Lavender oil or Peace & Calming oil. youngliving.com (Member number 3931888)
- If you know your dog is sound-sensitive, plan ahead and buy some Rescue Remedy. This natural liquid can be found at most Sprouts or Whole Foods. This is how I got Sully through thunderstorms living in Houston. Another option is the ThunderShirt.
- If you’re staying home, play a game with your pup every time a firework sounds off. Throw a party and toss him a piece of hot dog at every bang. This will help pups who don’t have an aversion to fireworks stay that way.
Keep these tips in mind when planning your holiday agenda. It’s important that everyone have fun and stay safe!