pet parenting

Save Your Dog from Explosive Anxiety on the 4th

A little preparation helps avoid fireworks freakouts

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Dear Davi,

Help! Independence Day is almost here, and my border collie is terrified of the fireworks. Any tips to help his yelp?

Martha

Martha,

Fireworks and dogs simply do not mix. Even the bravest dogs can be frightened by the loud noises. Don’t fret. Keeping your dog safe and calm on the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day and on those random Tuesdays when the neighbors are feeling frisky, is within your control.

Create a Safe Space. When firework displays pop up all over, your dog has every reason to burrow under blankets and beds. Most pups who are scared want to hide. Help your dog feel comfortable by creating a doggy haven where he can retreat when the boom’s too much to bear. Make the area as cozy as you can: close curtains to block sudden bursts of light, and have his favorite toys and doggy needs on hand.

Keep Him Busy. Break out the fun toys and food-stuffed KONG, or play a game to associate something fun with the sound. Any positive distraction can help. It doesn’t hurt to stock up on extra treats to hand out during the excitement.

Exercise. You’ve heard the saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog.” If you’ve tuckered out your pets before the light show begins, they may have less mental mojo to freak out and may be apt to doze through the ruckus.

Keep Calm. Dogs are experts at sensing human feelings and body language. Remember, we communicate with energy, and will look to the pack leader for clues on how to behave. Stay relaxed, even if your dog gets nervous—you can’t expect him to remain calm if you’re excited or anxious. Chances are, if you don’t make a big deal about the fireworks, he’ll learn to be less concerned as well.

Stay Home. Without a doubt, the best place for your four-footers when fireworks roar and flash is inside the house. They’ll feel much happier and safer with you by their side.

Be Prepared. Keep a keen eye on him during the commotion, and be sure he’s wearing proper identification and has a microchip, with up-to-date information. It’ll help bring him home if he should escape during the celebration-slash-chaos.

You’ve heard this a gazillion times already, but it’s worth repeating: More pets end up in shelters on the Fourth of July than at any other time of year. Fireworks scare the bejeezus out of dogs; when scared, we tend to bolt and keep running until we get far away from whatever scares us. It’s not that dogs take Independence Day literally—ha. It’s just that explosions and flashes of light in the sky can make us run for the hills.

Make no mistake, it’s NOT a good idea to take your dog to a fireworks display. Don’t think your pet is missing out on a fun time—that’s human guilt. Your dog won’t know what he’s missing and you’re being a good pack leader by not exposing him to the racket. When the booms and bangs are over, your dog will be grateful you made it a less stressful experience!

__________

Davi the dachshund is no scaredy-cat … until the fireworks go BOOM.

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