As we approach 4th of July, one of the noisiest times of year, Dee-O-Gee is urging dog owners across the country not to ignore their four-legged friends. Flashes of light and the loud bangs created by fireworks can be exciting for humans but very frightening for dogs, and owners will need to plan ahead to keep their dog safe and avoid negative incidents, such as a dog running away or acting aggressively out of fear.
Dee-O-Gee co-founder, Holly Allen, cautions “Dogs can react very badly to the unfamiliar sights and sounds that are common around 4th of July and summer Thunderstorms. Fireworks, people in costumes knocking on the door (around Halloween), flashes of lightning and other things that dogs would not normally experience can be terrifying for dogs and could result in them behaving unpredictably which could put their safety, or the safety of people, at risk.”
Dogs & Fireworks
Dee-O-Gee’s Do’s and Don’ts for Handling Canine Anxiety
Prepare your dog in advance: in the run up to 4th of July, try playing a sound CD with firework noises or firework sound videos on Youtube at a low level to let your dog get used to the sound in the background.
Go to the dog park: we advise dog owners to exercise their dog during the day before “freedom celebrators” start their festivities. A tired dog is a sleepy dog and this will help later on in the night!
Create a “safe place: make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if he or she feels scared. Alternatively, let your dog take refuge under furniture and include an old, unwashed piece of your clothing so that your dog can smell your scent and feel comfortable.
Walk the dog: Walk your dog before dusk. It may be some time before it’s safe to venture outside again for your dog to relieve himself. But, remember to keep a firm grip on the lead as many dogs are frightened by 4th of July sights and sounds and could potentially react aggressively out of fear.
Feed an early dinner: Feed your dog a while before you expect any disturbances, as once the fireworks start your dog may be too anxious to eat.
Prepare the house: on 4th of July itself, it’s best to close the curtains and turn the television or radio up and try to behave as normally as possible to encourage your dog to do the same.
Keep calm and celebrate on: try to act and behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog. Reward calm behaviour with dog treats or playing with toys of interest.
Forget the tags: keep a collar and ID tag on your dog, just in case they do accidentally escape. Make sure your dog is microchipped too, as if he or she does escape without a collar on this will ensure you are reunited as quickly as possible and is a legal requirement.
Take your dog to a firework display: even if your dog does not bark or whimper, don’t assume he or she is happy. Excessive yawning and panting can indicate that your dog is stressed.
“Man up”: if you try to force your dog to face his fears – he’ll likely just become more frightened.
Forget to top off the water bowl: anxious dogs pant more and get thirsty.
Switch it up: changing routines more than necessary can be stressful for some dogs.
Force the action: trying to tempt him out if he does retreat, as this may cause more stress.
Tell your dog off: this will only make your pet more distressed. It is important to remember that it is natural for a dog to be scared of loud noises and unfamiliar sights and sounds.