Early July is party time with picnics, barbeques, and fireworks which are fun for humans, but not so fun for our four-footed friends. The fireworks that humans find exciting can drive dogs into a state of utter panic. The explosions (even miles away), the high-pitched swoosh of rockets climbing into the sky, and the flashes of light can all be overwhelming sensory assaults, causing many dogs to cower, tremble in fear, or hide and appear disoriented. Some dogs become so terrified that they take drastic action like crashing through a screen door, jumping out of a window or leaping over a fence. Unfortunately, escape or destructive behavior can be a problem for you and can also result in physical injury to your dog.

Especially around July Fourth, random firecrackers will likely pop off before and after the big day, so it is important to monitor your dog’s reactions and help her overcome any panic. We don’t approve of ever leaving a dog outdoors for extended periods of time, but it is definitely a no-no during firecracker seasons. There are thoughtless and mean-spirited humans who seem to enjoy harassing animals, with recorded cases of people throwing firecrackers at animals to deliberately frighten them.. Many dogs are lost this time of year and sadly, some are never recovered. There are ways to make this holiday safer and more pleasurable for your dog. Most importantly, do NOT take your pet to places where there may be fireworks. Many of us consider our pets as members of the family, so it’s natural to include them in our activities, and they certainly thrive on human companionship, but we must recognize that certain activities, like fireworks, aren’t pleasant..or safe..for them. Keep them indoors, in a quiet, sheltered area of your home. These tips may help you make the Fourth of July a more positive experience for your dog.

  • Do not try to force your dog to experience or be close to the sounds that frighten him. For example, making him stay close to a group of children who are lighting firecrackers will only make him more afraid and could create aggressive behavior.
  • If your dog is afraid, do not try to comfort her by soothing or cuddling her because this may only reinforce her fearful behavior, as she may interpret this as a reward for her behavior. Instead try to behave normally, as if you don’t notice the fearfulness, but don’t punish her for being afraid. Punishment will increase her fear. Talk to her in a light, happy tone of voice that sends a message that the noise is no big deal.
  • Try to create a safe place for your dog to go when he is frightened, remembering that this must be a safe location from HIS perspective, not yours. Pay attention to where he goes, or tries to go, when he is frightened, and create a comfy place as shielded as possible from the frightening sound.
  • Do not shut your dog in a crate to prevent him from being destructive…He will still be fearful when he’s in the crate, and is likely to injure himself attempting to get out. If he is comfortable in a crate, it’s fine to place it (door open) in a quiet, sheltered area of your home that is somewhat protected from outside noises.
  • Put an unwashed T shirt or other piece of soiled clothing in the crate so that he has your scent. Shut the windows and close the blinds and curtains. Turn on the radio, TV. or fan to muffle outside sounds.
  • It’s great to try to try to distract him with toys or treats, or a favorite game, but if he wants to go to his “safe place”, let him. Give him something to fun —like a frozen Kong toy (or two) filled with his favorite treats.
  • Be sure to keep current identification on your pets, so that if, somehow they escape, there is a good chance they will be returned. Two forms of ID are always best. If someone finds them, the first thing looked for is a tag, and if they are taken to a shelter they will also be scanned for a microchip.
  • If you have neighbors or friends who often leave their animals outdoors, without being judgmental, explain the dangers involved. Perhaps they have not even thought about the distress that fireworks can cause for their animals.

By using common sense precautions, it is possible to prevent undesired distress and anxiety to animals, and both two-legs and four-legs will have a safe, happy holiday. HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!