How To Prepare Your Dog For The 4th of July And Fireworks

For dogs with noise anxiety, the 4th of July is a terrifying holiday.  Dogs suffering from this condition often panic and run away.  In fact, on July 4th and 5th, more pets go missing than any other day of the year.

It’s not only fireworks that can cause trouble, celebrations, parties, and backyard BBQ’s have the potential to create problems.  Gates left open, strange people in and out of the house, kids playing, and loud noise coming from the neighbors can all be a problem for some pets.

Commotion, fear and stress are a recipe that can quickly turn a fun celebration into a disaster.  Not only are dogs more likely to run away, more dog bites take place on the holidays.

To protect your dog, there are some things you can do to prepare your dog for the 4th of July, such as, socializing your dog to unusual sights, sounds, and people when they are a puppy.  If your dog is already fearful of loud noises or crowds, these tips may help:

Update tags and microchip information

According to the ASPCA, 15% of lost dogs are found because of the information on their tag or microchip.  Before the 4th, be sure your dog’s information is current and that you can read their tag.  If your dog has a microchip, ask your vet to scan the chip to be sure that it hasn’t migrated.

For extra peace of mind, there are many GPS pet trackers on the market.  If you buy a tracker, be sure the cellular tracking service is one that works well in your area.

Finally, since many dogs that get lost lose their collar, double check to be sure that the collar fits and that the fastener is strong.

Provide distractions and comfort

If your dog has minor noise phobia, playing games or providing other distractions can be helpful.  Turn on soothing music (they sell music to help reduce anxiety in pets) or turn on the television.

Try giving a highly desirable chew toy and reward calm behavior.  Some dogs respond well to swaddling, such as a snug shirt or ear muffs made for dogs.

Help your dog relax

Some dogs may need more than just a distraction.  In these cases there are many supplements on the market that may help but they need to be tried in advance or some need to build up in the system.

Some of these products include:

  • CBD oil
  • Fish based omega 3’s
  • Diffused pet pheromones
  • Purina Calming Care
  • Herbal blends such as Natures Pharmacy Calm Caps
  • Melatonin calming treats

Get help from your vet

If your dog gets extremely stressed and panics on the 4th, consider talking to your vet long before the holiday.  If you can, take video or pictures so your vet gets a clear picture of what you’re dealing with.

For dogs that get so scared that they injure themselves trying to dig through walls, breaking out of their crate, or even jumping out windows, they can benefit from a prescription to help them cope and keep them safe.

Stay inside and restrain your dog

Depending on how your pet responds to fireworks, you may also consider leashing your dog inside or crating them if this is calming for them, as long as they don’t injure themselves trying to escape.

If your dog is scared, don’t let your dog out while fireworks are going off.  Afterward, when you do go out, keep them leashed in the yard in case people let off some in your neighborhood.  Stay home and celebrate with your best friend if your dog’s not safe left alone.

During the day and night, recognize how your dog feels

The 4th is one of those holidays that lasts all day, night, and sometimes fireworks go on for days.  Some dogs are seemingly bomb proof and it’s not a problem.   It doesn’t matter what’s going on, they take it in stride and may even join in the fun. 

For those dogs, the 4th is a great time.  Meanwhile, for other pets, it’s an annual nightmare and they become nervous around guests, loud music, joking around, and the activity.

No matter what personality your dog has, all dogs need space and a place to go when they need a break from the party. However, for nervous dogs, it’s even more important that they have a safe retreat.  The signs that a dog is uncomfortable, nervous, or frustrated include:

  • Yawning
  • Licking their lips
  • Panting
  • Head turning
  • Stiff body and tail
  • Pinned back ears
  • Touch avoidance or ducking their head
  • Moving away from people
  • Whale eyes (the whites of their eyes showing)
  • Guarding behavior

You can help by providing a safe space that your dog can use as a retreat, or that you can put their crate in.  Preferably, this space will be in a room that they are already comfortable in.  Put their toys, dishes, pet bed, and toys inside.  Lock the door or put a sign on the door asking guests not to enter. Be sure that well meaning kids don’t follow the dog inside.

If the dog is the type that just needs to relax and recharge, they’ll let you know when they’re ready to come out.  If the dog seems happy to stay where they are, don’t force their social skills on such a busy day.  This space can also be used to keep your dog safe and contained during fireworks.

Be sure to visit your dog, make sure they have plenty of fresh water, and take them out for leashed walks when needed.

We hope these tips help you and your doggo get through the day safe and sound.  Be sure to share with your friends.