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Fireworks and Dogs: 7 dog tips on the 4th of July
It’s almost that time of year! A time where families and friends get together for food and fun as we celebration this Nation’s Independence Day. However, what about our fur babies? It’s it’s not without its stressors. Fireworks and dogs often don’t mix. Fireworks can scare your dog and create unnerving behavior issues. It’s not the dogs fault. They just don’t understand.
Why are dogs scared of fireworks more than others?
Beagle girl could care less about fireworks. While Koda the husky gets nervous and hides under my desk even with loud voices. I was curious about the science behind fireworks and dogs. According to The Smithsonian Magazine, canine scientists discovered why some dogs react more than others. From researching what I learned was dogs in general hear more than twice as much as humans. In addition they hear four times further away!
Although training and domestication has conditioned some dogs, it’s very normal for pups to be cautious of loud noises. Temperament, development and personality is also a factor. The most interesting fact I discovered was if Mama dogs have high stress during pregnancy they can also pass on to their young high levels of the hormone Cortisol. This in turn can make the puppy more sensitive to stress inducing events.
Luckily, though, there are ways you can ease your dog’s fears and ensure safety during this stressful time of year for your dogs. Here are 7 tips on how to have a peaceful 4th of July celebration with your four legged friend.
Have a long walk before fireworks starts
Dogs have a lot of energy, and if they don’t burn it off before the fireworks start, they’ll be more likely to be on edge when the noise begins. Plus, a long walk will tire them out and make them more likely to want to snuggle up and take a nap. A happy dog is a tired dog. So, make sure to take your dog for a long walk before the 4th of July fireworks begin.
Never leave dogs alone outside
Pets are unpredictable. As much as Koda girl loves to be outside in the cold at night and often times doesn’t come in until 2am, the 4th of July is one time a year the doggie door stays shut at night. Although she hates it, Dog Mama knows best! Given her sensitivity even to loud voices, I wont risk it. I would rather have her inside with me, then outside getting scared of some noise coming from the sky and wanting to dig under the fence. Just like humans, this can trigger a fight or flight response and perceive this loud noise as a threat. So it’s always best she’s close by my side.
The best defense: ID your pet
One of the most important things of all pet owners is to make sure your pups have proper identification. Families get busy socializing at BBQs and events. Dogs can easily slip outside when you are least expecting it. A door left ajar or even worse a trigger to run during a fireworks show. Especially in the dark fireworks and dogs can be a dangerous combination for even the dog that normally likes to chill at home. Without a collar and identification, dogs who stray, there is no way of someone contacting you for them to come home.
For my girls – Koda has a GPS collar from Fi Smart Collar (referral link included. Free band of your choice if you use this code). In her recent episode of adventures, she dashed outside and was 2 streets over. Thankfully I was notified and able to get the help she needed to be safe at home. Winnie on the other hand is both microchipped and with a tag. I have also seen a tip where you can write the number on a piece of masking tape and tuck it in your dog’s collar. However you identify your dog, make sure it has current and relevant information. Outdated information doesn’t help your pet so update your tags!
Distraction games: the snuffle toy!
One way to keep your dog calm during fireworks is to distract them with a game. Snuffle toys are a great enrichment game that can keep your dog’s mind occupied and their anxiety at bay. Often times I use my snuffle mats and snuffle balls to refocus their energy especially when I need to work. By placing food in the balls and strips of the mat, my pups are laser focused and completely ignore the world around them.
Pro tip: Keep a special basket of dog toys you ONLY bring out during special occasions. These are toys you give to them to be happy and occupied for a period of time and removed once complete. They are not every day toys. For me I give them snuffle toys especially during long conference calls when I work from home. Like children, dogs get excited over new stuff – even if it’s the same stuff they played with before.
Create a safe space for your dog
Dogs are like humans and want to feel secure and safe. The more secure a dog feels, the more well behaved they become. Fireworks can turn a dog’s normal relaxed behavior into something filled with anxiety and reactive. If your dog feels trapped instincts can kick in such as growling, tail tucked and avoiding human interaction. Creating safe zones in your house isn’t just good for the 4th of July, but also in managing every day family chaos.
From guests to noises, all dogs need a place to relax. For my girls, I don’t crate them. However, they know my room under my desk is the safest spot in the house. It’s a place where they often go to be close while I’m working. For them it’s like a little cave. When one dog is laying under my desk, the other dog is not allowed to be near. By ensuring they can retreat to a safe space when loud noises start, your dog will feel safe and secure.
Play music and turn on your favorite doggie TV show
One of my favorite things to do is watch on the big screen TV with the surround sound in the garage with my girls while I’m crafting. It’s a special treat for them as we are in a different part of the house. We often watch dog shows with pups barking for their own amusement. Even if I have friends and family over during the holidays, I still will open the garage and turn on a movie for them to escape and kick it on the couch.
However you spend your 4th of July this year, make sure you and your 4 legged creatures are safe. With BBQs burning, don’t forget to share a hot dog or burger patty for an extra treat!
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About the Author
Dog Mom, traveler, foodie and canine crafter. Kimberly is dedicated to enriching the lives of all dogs. She is inspired by her Two Idiot Balls of Fluff, a hyperactive white husky, Koda and her senior beagle, Winnie. Kimberly is passionate about sharing with you all the things she learned raising her two fur babies.