The 4th of July – Dog Dependence Day – A Survival Guide
American Independence Day, the 4th of July, conjures up visions of good times with family and friends, time off, picnics and summer fun – as it should!
What may not immediately come to mind is the fear and anxiety this holiday creates for many of our pets. Large gatherings, unfamiliar dogs, people and surroundings, and loud noises from fireworks and parties can terrify even the most stable dog. One of these triggers alone is hard enough on them but add them all together and you get the powerful impact of “trigger stacking” which, sadly, can be fatal.
Everyone knows that dogs depend on us for pretty much everything in their daily lives, including safety and security. Being in a safe location is as important as feeling secure. These are two important concepts that work together to help pets cope in stressful times. There are plenty of common-sense approaches to helping your dog have a safe and secure “Dependence Day.”
Let’s look at it from the perspective of before, during and after the 4th of July.
BEFORE the Holiday: PRIORITIZE YOUR PETS. It’s that simple. The time to start protecting your pets for the 4th of July festivities begins well before the day itself.
Here’s an Easy Check List:
· Have a properly fitting collar or harness on your dog.
· Keep an ID tag on your dog at all times.
· Be sure the ID tag includes your up-to-date contact information.
· Micro-chip your dog in case their collar comes off so you can be reunited.
· Plan Ahead- Where will you be for the fireworks? Where will your dog be? How can you make it safe?
· Create a safe haven for your dog and habituate them to that area well ahead of time.
· Desensitize your dog to the sound of fireworks. Work with a qualified trainer or behaviorist to desensitize your dog to the sound of fireworks using low volume exposure to the recorded sound of fireworks followed by high value treats, gradually increasing volume over time as your dog progresses and always using treats.
- Have a clear recent photo of your pet on hand in case you need to make “Missing Pet” flyers in a hurry.
Day Of Considerations:
· Stay home with your dog.
· Watch the festivities on TV.
· Secure doors, windows, gates and all other exit points.
· Don’t take your dog to a fireworks show – it’s loud and potentially scary for them.
· If you leave the house, be sure your dog is safely contained in his safe and secure area with soothing music playing.
· Better living through chemistry – Does your vet think your dog needs pharmaceutical help for this day?
· If the party is at your house – Keep your dog on leash and have one family member assigned to his or her safety from guests coming and going and open doors/gates/windows.
· Crate your dog safely in another room and check on them regularly. Use safe high-value chews or food puzzles.
When dogs get scared they can bolt out of doors or windows and over fences. Each year shelters across the country fill up with pets, and those pets could be considered the lucky ones, to be honest. The unlucky pets are those who get hit by unsuspecting car drivers and never make it home. All of this is preventable with just a little forethought.
After the 4th of July:
· If the unthinkable happens and your dog goes missing, check with your local shelter first. Most have websites with photos and descriptions of impounded animals. Keep checking back.
· Review local social media and missing pet pages.
· Make flyers to post around the area where he/she went missing.
· If you find a lost dog, take it to your local shelter immediately. The shelter is where people will go to look for their lost pet.
If you prioritize your pet and plan for their safety, the 5th of July can be even happier than the 4th!