How I Met My Dog

7 Tips to Help Your Dog Cope With the Fourth of July Festivities

Who doesn’t love a great fireworks display? Dogs - that’s who.

While some dogs are less affected by the vibrations and noises that accompany thunder and fireworks many become anxious and even terrified to the point of becoming disoriented, prompting them to run away or even worse - hurt themselves.

If you live with one of these dogs, try the following 7 tips to help your pup cope with the onset of a summer season that’s peppered with thunderstorms and the mother of all nights – the Fourth of July.

1. Sit & Stay

If at all possible, stay home with your dog. Pack animals feel safest when their family is physically together, so curled up on the couch with you is always your dog’s first choice. If you absolutely cannot be at home, one or all of the following products might help.

2. Hold Me Tight

Thundershirt is an anti-anxiety garment that is designed to reduce a dog’s stress by maintaining gentle, constant pressure on the body. The company claims 85% of dogs show improvement in noise related anxiety symptoms.

3. I Smell You Very Much

Studies have shown that some natural scented products such as Canine Calm, when massaged on your dog’s outer ears or abdomen and misted onto your dog’s bedding, can help your dog cope with stressful situations like thunder and fireworks. Other canine appeasing products like Adaptil emit a synthetic replica of a pheromone naturally released from a mother dog to her pups to help a dog feel less stressed.

4. Safe Harbor

Contrary to what many of us believe, stressed dogs cope far better in less space rather than more. If your dog is used to and happy about staying in his/her crate/cage, it’s the perfect place to reside when alone or anxious. Be sure to cover the crate with a towel and leave treats and a soft cushion to promote relaxation. If a crate isn’t an option, try a small bathroom. Some dogs even seek out water sources (e.g., bathtubs, behind the toilet) to hide during thunderstorms. Be sure to remove any objects from the bathroom that might be harmful (e.g., glass bottles, cleaning products, etc.). Make sure you close all windows and lock all dog/cat doors. Even drawing the curtains and closing the blinds can help present a less visually stimulating, safer, den-like atmosphere.

5. Can I See Some I.D. please? 

Make sure your dog’s identification tags are up-to-date and attached to the collar that your dog is wearing, even if he/she is staying at home. Stressed dogs quickly turn into escape artists and you want to be sure if your own Houdini gets out of the house, he/she will have the best chance of getting back home. Remember to put your cell phone number on the tag. This way, when you’re out looking for your dog, the person who’s found your dog can find you too.

6. Tune It Out

It has been said that music soothes the savage beast. It also soothes a frightened, stressed, and anxious one. One of the best tools we’ve tried is Victoria Stilwell’s psycho-acoustically designed music called Through a Dog's Ear. This music has specifically been designed to reduce canine anxiety and is most effective when introduced several days before the fireworks or thunder begin. Your dog can be conditioned to relax when listening to this music so, when the music is on no matter what is happening around your dog, he/she can stay calm.

7. A Tired Dog is a Less Stressed Dog

No matter how much exercise your dog is used to getting on a daily basis, if you know a stressful day is coming, up the anti. Start a day or two before and get your dog good and tired. On the day of the impending anxiety, take your dog out for a longer than usual walk or run. Fear releases adrenaline and adrenalin, coupled with high energy, can be a recipe for disaster. Making sure your dog is dog-tired to begin with can help put a ceiling on his/her stress level.

Whatever you choose to do to help your dog cope with the sights and sounds of the Fourth of July, do not take your noise-sensitive dog with you to the festivities. And don’t forget to leave plenty of fresh water down and the air conditioning on for your dog. If it’s hot outside, your fearful dog is even hotter inside.

X's & O's

Humans and canines interpret affection differently. Many dogs feel trapped and/or frightened by a human’s hug. If you want to send a loving message to a dog, a gentle scratch under the chin can work wonders. And...just because your dog doesn’t love a hug, doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t love you.

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