5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm On The Fourth Of July
Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. Independence Day is commonly associated with explosions, concerts, fairs, parades, and other noisy events that can traumatize your dog. Fireworks displays light up their senses with unfamiliar noises, flashes, and smells, and parties flood their homes with strange guests who may invade the rooms they usually have as private retreats. Dogs have jumped fences, broken chains, torn through screen doors, and even leaped through glass doors sometimes seriously injuring themselves in the process in a desperate effort to escape the bombardment. Lets go over the best ways to keep your canine calm on the Fourth of July.
1) Get Them Tired With Exercise
You’re doing the dog a massive disservice if you only take your pet outside to relieve itself. Big or small, young or old, dogs need to exercise daily. Its imperative to commit and give your beloved pet some intense stimulation before the shows begin. Dogs can get quite creative when they get bored. They will chew on furniture and even run around the house like maniacs. Fail to tire your dog out before before the big show and they will think World War 3 has just begun. They will utilize their hyper energy to the 10th degree and fall victim of panic mode. Solid exercise will keep them sleepy, calm, and just too tired to care. “As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog!
Best Ways to Stimulate
- Swimming – If you have access to a lake, river, or pool, have your pet go for a nice swim. Water will suck the energy out of any living thing. We reside in the city with a reservation filled with trails and small creeks that we make Sasha, our German Shepherd, run like crazy. Up hills, down hills, and in the water. She’s addicted to tennis balls so we make her run in and out of the creek for an hour. Good luck trying to wake her up after that session!
- Dog Parks – With an increasing amount of dog parks around the country, it’s now easier than ever to find your pet some furry friends to chase and play with. Two hours before the fireworks begin to light up the sky is the best time to go. Let them run around, sniff some butts, and wrestle their energy out.
- Stairs and Obstacles- Rainy day? No problem! Running up stairs and hills can truly be challenging. Its one of the best exercises for humans and dogs. Have them wait at the bottom of the stairs, do commands like sit and lay down, then have them run up with excitement. Set up some obstacles around the house and have them navigate through them and reward with treats. Do it right and they will be sleeping like a mummy.
More pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of year, and noisy fireworks are to blame. According to national statistics, animal control officials across the country see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th. In fact, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for shelters. Folks underestimate their pets capabilities and tend to leave windows and doors open. They will take their dogs collar off for comfort around the home to later find their pet is missing without proper identification. Dogs will dig a hole under the fence and run off faster than you think. Preparation for this day is important as safety when working with fireworks themselves.
Do Not Overlook These Steps
- Collar and ID Tag – Make sure your dog is wearing a strong collar with proper identification tags in case they manage to escape. Ensure that the phone numbers, addresses, and names are current and up to date. Last thing you’d want is somebody calling an out of service phone number that is engraved on your pets ID tags. Make sure you have recent photos of every angle of your dog.
- Close Windows and Doors – Your clumsy dog can develop acrobatic skills out of fear. Go around the home and make sure all of the doors and windows are closed and locked. Furthermore, walk around the property and ensure that all gates are locked and there is nothing to assist them to hop over the fence. Close the blinds on the windows to keep the flashing lights from frightening your pet. This will help to keep the noise out as well.
- Desensitize Your Pup – Get your dog accustomed to the sound of fireworks so the real thing won’t seem so scary. Play sound recordings of fireworks during playtime to associate to sounds with positive experiences.
3) Distract With Toys and Puzzles
Toys are a powerful attention seeker for pets. Find what really drivers your dog crazy. One of the best ways of keeping your pup from losing their mind is by taking a rubber Kong toy and freezing some treats inside. Why is it so powerful? They will be heavily invested in getting their favorite treat that is suck inside of a toy. Not only will they have to figure out how to extract the treats, but lick to unfreeze them. This can take up to two hours sometimes and will help to further distract and stimulate them. After they finally extract that delicious reward, they will be accustomed to the noise outside and go to sleep.
Great Toy and Puzzle Ideas
- Freeze Yogurt – You can buy pre-made or simply freeze regular yogurt containers. It’s as good for their digestive tracks as it is for yours. Helps those animals that are especially gassy! (older animals might require less dairy, try mixing half yogurt/half water for those who need a little help)
- Peanut Butter Puzzle – Grab some delicious peanut butter and freeze it inside of a toy. Make sure its somewhat accessible. Put some of the treat around the actual toy to tease them and lick the toy for some time before they start digging.
- Thick Bones – All pet stores have giant bones filled with delicious flavors. Our German Shepherd chews this giant bone for a good two hours. She loves to bite though it and lick the insides. These are a life saver during loud thunder storms. She will get scared for a moment, then resume destroying her bone.
- Hide and Seek – Hide some chicken around the house. Leave clues as to where they can find them. The smell of the chicken around the house will drive them crazy to keep looking and find more.
4) Keep Them Company
If your dog winces, shivers, and runs away at loud noises, the last thing he wants is to feel like nobody else is looking out for him/her. Bring your pet along for the ride if they have little to no fear of loud noises. Chances are that they will be distracted by the actual party and food that is being served. If you’re hosting the party and decide to lock the dog in the house, be sure to pay them a visit every 20 minutes. Additionally, there are fantastic pet cameras with treat dispensers on the market. PetChatz lets your dog call you with the PawCall if they get worried. Keep them company by hugging and petting them during distress. Games like fetch or tug of war are the most efficient ways of keeping your dogs mind of the explosions outside. Provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas.
5) Medications For Anxiety
Medicating your pet may seem controversial but it can save your dog from severe stress. The physiological effects of fear can impact a dog’s health. Chronic fear, anxiety and phobias should be treated as serious medical conditions. There are medications that can be provided by your veterinarian to help counteract the effects of anxiety. By some estimates, at least 40% of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most pronounced in the summer. Drugs like Benadryl will keep your pet calm during these explosive times. Please consult your veterinarian before giving your pet ANY! medications. While some will roll their eyes at this idea, it could actually be quite unhealthy and transmuting if some pets are not medicated. Train them to be desensitized over the next year if possible.
Other Ways of Curing Anxiety
- Thunder Shirt – The thunder shirt is a wearable solution that can be used to help your pet with dog separation anxiety, fear or thunder and other loud noises, and other canine anxieties. It’s great for traveling and has been scientifically proven effective to calm anxiety, fear, and over excitement issues.
- Massage – Massage your dog’s neck by making circular motions. Remember to keep the pressure gentle for comfort. Continue massaging down toward your dog’s shoulders. Since dogs can’t reach this area of their body, take a little extra time so he can enjoy it. Don’t forget the belly and booty rubs!
- Play Music – Playing music specifically developed for pets can sometimes ease anxiety, especially if your dog suffers from separation anxiety and the songs are left playing while you are away. Like human, dogs can get moody with the right music.
By following these tips, hopefully fewer families will face the heartbreak of losing a pet during the July 4th holiday. The safest and best bet for celebrating this Fourth of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities, at least this time around. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise. Be the good local citizen and raise awareness about the 4th of July madness. Nearly all dog owners overlook the dangers of this holiday and find themselves in deep regret the next day. Dogs are our family members but they view the world differently. Respect their viewpoints and the dangers of alcoholic beverages and dangerous explosions. Have a fantastic and safe independence day. Happy birthday America!
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