When I was volunteering in an animal shelter, the 4th of July was always a busy day. While humans may look forward to an annual fireworks display, animals are often frightened by fireworks. As a result, if left outside, many animals run away and shelters have an increased number of stray animals to deal with.
1. It seems so obvious, but don’t take your dog to see the fireworks. The loud noise can hurt sensitive canine ears. Dogs don’t understand the rumbling that comes with fireworks and they often become anxious.
2. If you go to the fireworks and leave your dog at home, if your dog has a fear of loud noises such as thunderstorms and fireworks, plan for the dog’s safety by using a crate, etc. Do not leave your dog outside during the fireworks. Even if you don’t live near the public fireworks display, there’s a good chance neighbors will have fire crackers and other noise makers.
3. While at home, provide your dog with a safe place to stay during the fireworks. Closing the curtains and turning on the television will mask the sound and light if fireworks are nearby. Consider playing with your dog or providing chew toys as distractions.
4. Don’t reinforce fear related behaviors by cuddling or cooing to your dog, “it’s okay, it’s okay.” This sends the message to the dog that there really is a reason to be afraid.
5. Accidents do happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry. In addition to microchipping your dog, use ID tags on your dog’s collar so if the dog becomes afraid and runs away from you, the person who finds your dog can contact you immediately.
Happy 4th of July!