July Fourth is in a couple of days, and you know what that means? Barbeques, parades, and importantly, fireworks! Brilliant bursts of color with booms that ring for miles. Personally, I love to lie on a blanket and watch the fireworks shoot into the sky. A few years ago, my family and I mistakenly brought my dog, Tika, to the park where there were not only fireworks but also canons. I think you know where this is going. Huge mistake. Tika cried and shook uncontrollably, and we ended up leaving early. Even at home, if there are fireworks nearby, my poor dog crawls under any bed she can get to the fastest and curls into a ball.
In the worst-case scenario, dogs can run away from home. Some dogs can run through screened doors and dig under fences. Make sure your dog has updated tags with the correct phone numbers to call and the correct address. My dog also has a tracking microchip from the Humane League in her back if she gets lost, but not all dogs are equipped with chips. Have recent photos on hand of your pooch in case you need to make ‘lost dog’ flyers.
Give your canine a comfortable, safe space they can go to when fireworks occur or any occasion where they feel uncomfortable. Many dogs like the feeling of protection in a crate. Whether their space is a crate, under a table, or under the bed, make the spot cozy. Fill the area with soft blankets or towels and your dog’s favorite toys. Don’t chase after your dog when they dart into their safe space. Let them be and check on them periodically.
Distract your dog by giving them something to chew on, something to challenge them. One of the most popular attention-requiring toys is the KONG bone. Fill the hollow bone with peanut butter, biscuits, canned dog food, etc. While the KONG reduces anxiety, it also eases boredom. You can also give your dog a tennis ball or a rawhide, whatever your pup prefers. My dog loves chewing and shredding toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
Drown out the noise of the fireworks with music or turn on the television. You probably can’t completely cover up the fireworks, but other noises can help. Close the curtains and turn on your inside lights to hide the light of the fireworks. You can even get your dog accustomed to the sound of fireworks by playing firework noises on your computer or cell phone. While you play the noises, give your dog a treat so they associate the sound of fireworks with receiving treats!
Some owners swear by the ThunderShirt, a wraparound vest for your dog that applies a calming amount of pressure on certain pressure points. The ThunderShirt can be compared to a swaddled infant. You can even make your own DIY ThunderShirt by wrapping your dog in an ace bandage or a t-shirt.
Your dog will feel the most content if you’re with them at home during the fireworks. Pet them, snuggle them, and speak with calming words. If dogs really are man’s best friend, take care of them. Protect your pup.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!