How To Protect Your Dog During Firework Celebrations
The Fourth of July weekend can be a nightmare for dog owners.
Combine loud fireworks, an abundance of food and drinks that are not pet-friendly and the heat, it’s a holiday not everyone looks forward to.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more pets go missing over the Fourth of July weekend than any other time of the year.
I’m lucky, because in the 8 years I have had Toby, he has never been afraid of fireworks. From when he was a little puppy, I started taking him to the weekly summer fireworks show in the town where I live. While he was slightly nervous the first time, as soon as people started making a fuss over him, he relaxed and associated the fireworks with a positive experience and it never fazed him again.
Related: The Science Behind Dogs & Loud Noise
Maddux, however, is another story. I did the same thing with him as I did with Toby as a puppy. However, Toby was five months old at his first fireworks show, and Maddux was a year old.
His reaction is mixed. Sometimes, they bother him when we are watching them, and other times they don’t. I pay close attention to his body language, and at the first sign of unrest, I remove him from the situation. As long as the fireworks are not right in front of him, however, he is unfazed.
Not everyone has dogs like that. Many times even if it’s in the distance, the fireworks are still a problem. My childhood dog was like that.
But, there are some simple measures you can take to make sure your dog stays safe over the Fourth of July weekend.
- Never let them off leash. I don’t care how good your dog is when it comes to recalls, always keep them on a leash during fireworks, or if there is a potential for fireworks. This not only applies to public places or friends’ houses, but also in your own backyard. This also helps with them not getting unwanted food at parties. If you and your dog are attached, you will know everything that is going into their mouth.
- Have their crate at the ready. If you are going away for the weekend, bring it with them. Pet product manufacturers make a variety of collapsible crates for dogs, which makes throwing them in your vehicle super easy. If a party gets out of hand or your dog gets nervous, you have a safe place to put them.
- Make sure they are wearing a collar with tags. The tags should have the dog’s name as well as the your name and cell phone number. This may sound like common sense, but some people tend to take their pet’s collar off when they are in the house and only use it for walks. Just for this weekend, make sure they have it on at all times.
- Tire them out before the first firework is shot. During the day, take them for a hike, a long walk or to the dog park. I have found the more exhausted they are, and have a strong desire to just come home and sleep, the less reactive they can be.
- If you can, stay with your dog. Don’t leave them home alone, or blast the TV, or radio, to drown out the sound of the fireworks. On the Fourth of July, many stations broadcast popular firework shows, which cancel out the idea of why you’re creating the noise in the first place.
Michelle Maskaly is a freelance journalist, content creator and business strategist, who lives in upstate New York with her two dogs, two birds, four tortoises and fish. She writes about their life on the pet lifestyle website, My Tail Hurts From Wagging So Much.
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