July 4th is just around the corner and many a dog owner is already stressed about their pooch and the reaction to fireworks as we celebrate our Independence by blowing things up. Dogs have no idea what is going on outside and why there are so many loud noises, be it nearby or farther away. It could be WWIII for all they (don’t) know and that’s scary. Not every dog is phased, but with their hearing being much more sensitive than ours, it could also hurt.
While you can buy mild poppers and sparklers from places like your local grocer, that doesn't keep people from obtaining personal, more powerful fireworks. Often these are sought from tribal reservations but once back in places like the City of Seattle, they are illegal. Policing this is a nightmare where it is illegal so better to assume it’ll happen and take care to keep your dog safe than think it won’t occur.
Websites like Craigslist will light up on July 5th with ads from people looking for their lost dogs that got spooked and bolted. First and foremost, keep your dog securely inside, especially if you’re leaving to enjoy the professional displays like on Lake Union. Sometimes even a fence won’t stop a scared canine from escaping. Keep them in a darkened, secure room as far away from the noise as possible or in the basement if you have one. A covered kennel can also be a safe haven.
Drown out the noise with the TV or radio. Ambient noise machines aren't likely to make enough sound to drown out the loud booms that occur randomly throughout the night.
If your canine companion isn't too freaked out, something like an over the counter herbal calming agent might work. Or invest in a Thunder Shirt, originally created for this very problem. It offers a firm hug like sensation that can help to keep dogs calm.
Other times, nothing besides doggie downers from the vet are going to help. The most often prescribed sedative for dogs is called Acepromazine. Local vets are going through the stuff like it’s going out of style this time of year. It’s not going to stop your dog from being afraid, but it will help keep them relaxed.
Some final tips: never yell at a barking dog. This will only create more anxiety, instead, try to redirect their attention to something else. Give a special treat. Coddling them also won’t accomplish anything but letting your dog know that is indeed something to worry about. Saying “it’s okay” in a soothing voice and holding them only reinforces the fact that something abnormal is occurring. The best thing you can do is carry on business as usual. Make sure you’re already set for when the fireworks occur, don’t go running around closing windows and letting them know something’s up.
Keep your dog safe so everyone can enjoy a happy Fourth of July!