Think Ahead – Preparing for the 4th of July, Fireworks and Fido

While summer is not officially upon us, it sure feels that way in most of the nation. Summertime is full of warm, sunny days that make it perfect for hanging outdoors with loved ones, friends and our favorite four-legged friends. Summer is also a time filled with many holidays encouraging outdoor celebrations. The biggest of course, is our nation’s birthday the Fourth of July. This special holiday celebrates our country’s freedom and liberty and is a filled with backyard barbecues, swimming, sparklers and fireworks show. It is an amazing time to connect with family and neighbors to watch the beautiful bursting firework shows in the area, but remember, this celebration can be scary – especially to our dogs, which are not used to the constant loud sounds that prelude the beautiful bursting sights. In fact, the Fourth of July is notorious for causing dogs to escape and run away. The combination of loud booms, bright lights and burnt smell overwhelms a dog’s senses leaving them scared and wanting to run and hide.

It is never too early to begin preparing your precious pup for what is to come this coming July. If you feel your dog may become nervous you can try desensitizing your dog to the sound of fireworks or just help your dog feel most comfortable for the night of. Either way, here are our tips to help prepare for Fido’s Fourth of July experience.

Desensitize

You can try to desensitize your dog to the sound and sight of fireworks by using a DVD or CD and expose your pup to the loud noises and sights while doing something your dog loves. Try giving him a total-body massage while he watches a DVD of a fireworks show – start the volume low and over time (weeks) you can raise the volume until it does not bother your dog. You can also try playing these noises for your dog while eating or just before getting his daily exercise with you. By incorporating the noise with things he loves, he will begin to associate pleasurable activities with the noise. However, while this may help your dog cope better with the sounds of Fourth of July, understand that nothing can compare to the sight, sound and smell of a real live fireworks show. If you choose to bring Fido with you to the show, it is best to keep him on a leash and near you as your comfort him during the firework show.

Comfort

After working to desensitize your dog, it is best to leave him far away from the live fireworks show, just to be safe. You can do this by keeping him in a smaller area, like your laundry room, with all of his favorite things: blanket, bed, toys and fresh water. You may want to put your dog in a room that has a hard surface and is easy to clean just in case the noises scare him to the point of causing an accident. To enhance your dog’s comfort you can even leave a CD of comforting music playing for your dog.

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Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketboom/8252334117/

If you do not feel comfortable leaving your dog inside while you are gone – please make sure you have safety measures in place for your dog and a comfortable place, like a doghouse with blankets, toys and fresh water. If you do not have one already, consider installing an invisible fence and work with your dog prior to the holiday so he is conditioned to stay within the boundaries and you may even want to tie your dog up, with enough slack to roam around and be comfortable in his doghouse of the night.

Susan Wright is a practicing veterinarian, dog owner, author, great neighbor, and a dog product expert with dog training collars.

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