Not a Fun Day for Dogs!

The Fourth of July is an exciting, fun holiday for humans, but unfortunately, this holiday holds a plethora of danger for your dogs who do not understand the loud noises, and flashes of light.. Just put yourself in your dog’s place: it is getting dark and you are relaxing on the back patio, when suddenly the sky explodes…fire and thunder shattering the night.

No dog should be left outdoors, especially on the Fourth of July, and do not take her along to any fireworks show. . The Humane Society of the United States recommends leaving your pet INDOORS in a safe, quiet room. Make sure the room is dog- proofed, and provide safe toys for him. (maybe this is a good time to give him a couple new toys!). Frightened dogs can become destructive, so remove any breakable objects or things that could be harmful to your dog if chewed.

Turn on a radio or television (or both), set at a low volume, to create a soothing noise. We have found one of the best calming tools is a CD, Canine Lullabies: heartbeat music therapy especially for dogs. Most of the CD’s that claim to “make dogs happy or calm” are simply people-pleasers, but Canine Lullabies is different. It was tested by humane societies and members of the American Boarding Kennels Association. However, personal experience is always the best teacher, so I tested it on our own shelter dogs. Several of them were so distraught that they would bark for hours; another one licked himself until his skin was raw. Amazingly, this music calmed and relaxed them. If you have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, barks excessively, or exhibits other inappropriate behavior, I recommend trying it, and there is no better time than the Fourth of July weekend. For whimpering puppies, sick or injured dogs, or just hyperactive pets, it is a life saver. For more information go to or check out Terry Woodford on Face Book.

You can also stream these from Spotify using these links ( and ( for free with commercials or without commercials if you already pay for a Spotify account.

A commercial product, ThunderShirt, has been used with great success by thousands of individuals and shelters. An effective deterrent to anxiety and stress, this product was developed out of sheer frustration. ThunderWorks founder, Phil Blizzard’s fifty pound dog was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks, and Blizzard could find no solution other than medications and desensitization training programs. One day a friend recommended trying a snug wrap…like swaddling an infant, and during one bad storm, he wrestled the dog into an old t-shirt and used packing tape to create mild pressure. It worked and the taped T-shirt evolved into a ThunderShirt, which has had an insanely calming effect on millions of dogs, and effectively provides an effective solution for common problems of anxieties, over-excitement, pulling, jumping and much more.

Rescue Remedy Pet is an alcohol- free variation of the original stress relieving formula, Rescue Remedy, that has been available for more than 70 years. It can be used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your dog needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems.

It is a good idea to make sure your pet is well-exercised well before any fireworks displays begin. A tired pet will be calmer and less likely to engage in anxious or disruptive behavior. The safest option for celebrating the holiday is to exclude them from all of the festivities, but make sure they are wearing ID tags …just in case. According to Dogs Deserve Better, more animals are lost on July 4th than any other time of the year Two forms of identification are always best…if your dog gets loose, and is found, the first thing that will be looked for is an ID tag. If he is taken to a shelter, he will be scanned for a microchip.

By using common sense precautions, both you and your pet can enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July.

The Fourth: Whoosh, Bang. Boom!

Shel Silverstein wrote one of my very favorite books, The Giving Tree. If you are unfamiliar with the book, please put it on your reading list – a very short, thoughtful expose’ of life. Silverstein also wrote “The Fourth of July: Oh, crash! My bash! It’s bang! The Zang! Fourth Whoosh! Of Baroom! July Whew” enthusiastically portraying the Fourth of July from a human’s point of view. However, from a dog’s perspective, his poem “Mr. Grumpledump’s Song” probably more aptly describes how a dog feels about this celebration:

“Everything’s wrong. Day is too long. Sunshine’s too hot. Wind is too strong! Kids are too noisy! Folks are too happy, singin’ their songs. Why can’t they see it? Everything’s wrong.”

The Fourth of July is an exciting, fun holiday for humans, but unfortunately it holds a plethora of dangers to our four-legged pets, and can be a dangerous and frightening time for them. In addition to the risks of injuries and burns, many pets are fearful of the excitement and noise associated with the day. They may act irrationally and panic, and when in distress, pets can run incredibly long distances, lose their sense of direction, and end up far from home. According to, more dogs go missing on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year because of fireworks. The loud noises are scary and confusing, and even painful to some animals. NEVER leave pets outside, even in a fenced yard, and especially not on a chain. In their fear, pets that normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and be lost or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death. Thoughtless, “fun-loving” humans have been known to deliberately toss firecrackers at dogs, and even allowing your pets near fireworks can lead to serious burns, even after the fuse has burned out, and unused fireworks pose a danger to curious pets who like to chew.

A few tips to keep your dog safe and happy when those fireworks start lighting up the sky:

  •  Take your dog for a walk early in the day, before the festivities, and be sure to keep her on leash, because some people do set off fireworks before it gets dark.
  • Do NOT take your pet to fireworks displays even if you plan to stay in your car with him. The explosions that are loud to human ears are much louder to a dog, whose hearing is more sensitive than humans….certainly do not leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. Partially opened car windows do not provide sufficient air for your dog, and if he becomes frightened, he would likely become destructive
  • Plan ahead to keep your pet indoors in a quiet, sheltered spot. Keep the curtains closed, and leave the radio or television (or both) on to keep him company while you are enjoying the celebration. We have found a CD that is super for calming dogs….I have shelves filled with tapes and books on “how to cure behavior problems,” and most of them are what I consider “snake oil”, but once in a while I discover a real winner. I observed that some specific lullaby music, played to the rhythm of an actual human heartbeat, is being used in many hospitals, especially for newborns and preemies, which actually has a calming effect on the babies, and it is also effective with dogs. If you have a nervous or easily frightened dog, I recommend you go to , or call Terry toll free at 1-800-537-7748 for information on this CD that is effective not only for fireworks, but for other inappropriate behavior
  • A commercial product, the thundershirt, has been used with great success to calm anxious dogs. It was created by behavioral experts using a concept similar to swaddling an infant. The thundershirt is great in many stressful situations, and info on them can be found at or on Amazon.
  • If you have neighbors or friends who normally keep their dog outdoors, please visit with them about the dangers involved. Perhaps they have not even thought about the distress that fireworks can cause the animals.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing complete updated ID…just in case. If someone finds your animal, the first thing to look for will be an ID tag. If he is taken to a shelter or pound, he will be scanned for a microchip.

Exercise caution, common sense, and compassion and keep your dogs away from the whooshes, barrooms, and bangs, while you enjoy a safe, festive Happy Fourth!


Fourth of July – Not a fun day for dogs

The Fourth of July is an exciting holiday for most humans, but even with the delicious smells of grilled meat wafting in from every yard, and children carelessly dropping goodies, from a dog’s perspective the day is more of a nightmare than a dream….holding a plethora of dangers for pets who do not enjoy the blasting booms and flashing lights.

Just put yourself in your dog’s place…. Your humans have left and you are just relaxing on the couch. You’re kind of bummed that they didn’t take you along, but you’ve got your basket of toys to keep you company. Then all of a sudden, the sky explodes as thunder and fire shatter the darkness. The celebratory pops and flashes are downright scary for most four-legs. Noise phobia turns some dogs into chewing, defecating, trembling messes, and their behavior may include chewing through a door, jumping through a window, digging under a fence, or running into traffic. Did you know that more dogs go missing on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year?

NEVER leave your pet outdoors on a chain, or even in a fenced yard. If he panics, he could injure himself by getting tangled in the chain, or he could run away, only to end up lost and alone. Keep him indoors in a quiet, sheltered area. Ideally someone would stay home with her, but if this is not possible, make the room a comfortable sanctuary with a soft bed, food and water, and a couple of his favorite toys. Shut the windows, close the blinds or curtains, and turn on the radio or television (or maybe both). Since many frightened animals become destructive, be sure to remove any item your dog could destroy or might be harmful if chewed…a couple stuffed Kongs will give him something good to chew.

We have found a CD that is super for calming dogs…I have several shelves full of books and tapes on “how to cure any behavior problem imaginable” , and most of them are what I consider “snake oil,” but I discovered a specific lullaby music, incorporating the rhythm of an actual human heartbeat that has a calming effect on babies, and it also works with dogs. If you have a nervous or easily frightened dog, Go to or call Terry toll free at 1-800-537-7748 for information on this CD that is effective not only for fireworks, but for other inappropriate behavior.

Wrapping a baby snuggly in a blanket, or “swaddling”, is a common practice for helping to calm an irritable or upset baby, and a ThunderShirt for dogs calms a dog with that same gentle pressure, and is an easy, safe solution for any noise anxiety, and many other anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues. Simply wearing a ThunderShirt helps most dogs reduce or eliminate anxiety. For more information, go to

There are also several flower essences formulated to relieve stress. Rescue Remedy is one of the best known and is used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your dog needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems.

Do not take your dog to any firework festivity, even if he is a mellow dog, or if you plan to leave him in the car. The temperature in a car—even with windows partially open—can be deadly, and if the dog panics, he can destroy the interior of your vehicle. Never set off fireworks close to where a dog is…don’t let the kids think it is “fun” to set off even the small, supposedly harmless variety. “Harmless” often results in injuries, both for the animals and the children. It is much better to attend events organized and supervised by professionals, and forget the backyard fireworks. Every year, dogs, cats, (and humans) are lost, injured or even killed as a result of fear and excitement during the festivities.

Make sure your pets have identification tags with current info, so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Two forms of ID are always best when it comes to protecting your pet—a physical tag and a microchip are recommended. If someone finds your dog, the first thing to look for will be a tag, and if she is taken to a shelter or pound, she will be scanned for a microchip.

By taking a few proactive steps, the holiday known for its rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air won’t cause your dog too much distress.

On the 4th: Safety First

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!


Fourth of July Litter

I seldom rerun a story, but occasionally we all find it necessary to sort through our piles of papers, and a good dog lover-friend found this column that I had done five or six years ago, and suggested it was worth sharing again, so here’s the story of The Fourth of July Litter.

Another year’s celebration of high-pitched swooshing rockets climbing into the sky, with the fantastic light shows and lots of food and fellowship is history. It was certainly a fun outdoor time for picnics and parties, and now park employees and city crews are busy cleaning up the litter left behind. Shelters are already receiving frantic calls about missing dogs that apparently panicked and ran to escape the festivities. They are also receiving numerous calls about animals simply dumped for one reason or other…frightened, confused, and starving. This is a sad story, but the truth is that helpless pets are left to suffer and die, and I would hope that the next time you see a homeless animal, you will be reminded of this tale. As Charles Doram says, “Folks will know how large your heart is by the way you treat a needy dog.”

For several days the little shaggy dog had stayed next to a trash can in the park where it was shady and cool. The fresh earth of the small hole she had dug beneath the picnic table gave a little comfort to her skin, skin that was embedded with thorns and covered with fleas and ticks that were slowly draining the life out of her frail body. She could barely see because of matted fur that was covering her eyes. Weak and in pain, she had not felt like looking for food and water. Vaguely she remembered a bowl filled with food, a wrinkled hand and another one with fresh water. Oh yes… cool, refreshing water!

Suddenly her head raises, her tail starts to thump, hesitantly and slowly at first, then getting faster and faster. Cars are coming through the park! The morning peace and the song of the birds are interrupted by the noise of trucks, cars, people shouting and children laughing. Tables are set up, covered with all kinds of things. The little dog recognizes the smell of food. Wearily she raises her head to see what the hustle and bustle is all about. More and more people are arriving. The smell of food is getting stronger and the little dog starts to stagger around, in hope of finding some crumbs, to ease the nagging hunger pain inside of her. Maybe there will be even a few licks of water somewhere.

There is music and everyone is having a good time, so the little dog is hardly noticed. However, two children give her a few pieces of their hotdogs and some ice cubes from a paper cup, which lessen her thirst. She follows the children who stop to talk to a large man. All of a sudden the man comes rushing at her, screaming, clapping his hands and yelling at her to “go away”! She runs as fast as she can, gets tangled in a cloth of red, white and blue colors, and desperately seeks a place for safety under a picnic table. A man bends down and gives her a gentle pat on the back. She curls up next to his seat, hoping that he will touch her again.

Drained of the little strength she had left, she falls asleep. When she wakes up, the sun is setting. The man is gathering up his belongings and is getting ready to leave. Hopefully, she wags her tail, wanting to be taken along. The man pats her once more and says, “Go home, mutt.” Then he leaves. The little dog watches until the car disappears from sight.

It is quiet now. She crawls back into her hole under the table and curls up into a small ball. Weakness relaxes her body… she is tired… so tired! Her small body quivers, and a tiny sigh escapes from her mouth. Her eyes slowly close. The noise of the fireworks do not disturb or frighten her any longer, in fact… nothing will ever frighten her again. She sees another man’s face, one she used to love so much. She feels his gentle, wrinkled hand stroke her body. The little dog is home again! This time for good.

The next morning city workers are cleaning up the park. They talk about the wonderful party they had the day before, as they pick up the trash that is carelessly scattered all over the park. One of them discovers the little dog. He picks her up. For a quick moment, a sign of compassion softens his face, then he tosses her body into the trash can with the rest of the litter, shakes his head, and walks away.


The world is a dangerous place, not only because of those who do evil, but those who look on and do nothing. In the ideal world, there would be none left to rescue, none left to buy, none left to suffer, none left to die, none to be beaten, none to be kicked…all would be loved—Albert Einstein