The 4th of July is just around the corner and more pets go missing on this day than any other. While we may love the sight and sounds of fireworks, the vast majority of dogs and cats do not. Here are 10 things you can do to help your furry friend make it through the night:
1. Leave your dog at home. Don’t take your dog to the big fireworks show in town. With the big crowds and loud noises, each of which occur in the dark, I’m sure your dog will be much happier at home.
2. Tag your dog. Be sure to have your dog’s collar on and I.D. tags attached, even if you don’t plan on leaving the house. This makes the dog’s return easier should the unexpected happen and he gets out and away from you.
3. Prepare your home. At home, close all the windows to help block the sound and if the burst from the fireworks can be seen from your home, pull the drapes. If you have a basement room, that’s an even better option to help block the sights and sounds.
4. Make it Fun! Play fun games with your dog during the fireworks to help distract him from the noise.
5. Play classical music. Studies have shown that this can help reduce stress in our pets. Special recordings such as “Through a Dog’s Ear” are available.
6. Embrace white noise. White noise and pink noise can also be very helpful in disguising the sound. We use white noise ourselves for one of our dogs who has a hard time dealing with thunder.
7. Use an anxiety wrap. An anxiety wrap such as a Thundershirt or even a small tight T-shirt can help reduce the stress our dogs feel (similar to swaddling a baby).
8. Take a trip. If fireworks are prevalent in your neighborhood, consider taking a short trip with your dog or drive away from home to avoid the sounds.
9. Comfort your dog. Know that it’s OK to comfort and console a frightened dog. There’s still some old school thinking that says we are reinforcing that fear, this is just not so. Fear is not a behavior – it is an emotional response to a perceived threat.
10. Consult your vet. If you already know that your dog is frightened by loud noises, you might consult your veterinarian or have your vet consult with a veterinary behaviorist about possible pharmaceuticals or natural remedies that have proven to lessen stress.
The 4th of July is indeed a grand time to celebrate the birth of our great nation. Keeping the comfort and safety of our pets in mind is always high on my list. I also like to consider the comfort of our veterans who may be suffering from PTSD. If you know someone like this in your neighborhood, please be courteous of them, and your dog, and withhold shooting off fireworks.
Happy 4th of July from all of us at Cold Nose College!
Brad Waggoner is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a KPA Certified Training Partner (CTP), a dog∗tec Certified Dog Walker, a Certified Fear-Free Professional, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior and Partner of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. He enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S. www.coldnosecollege.com