This is preaching to the choir, I’m sure, but no July 4 would be complete without a reminder that dogs and fireworks are a bad combination. The fireworks don’t mind so much, but many dogs are terrified of them. Shelters and pounds report increased intakes every year due to dogs running away during the celebrations. A few suggestions from the Federatioon:
Keep your dogs inside if at all possible.
Have a television or some music playing loudly enough to mask the sounds coming from outside.
One of the best suggestions I’ve heard is to throw a “popcorn party” for the dogs, gathering everyone together in one room, popping some corn or bringing a bag of small treats. Play catch, practice obedience commands, try a new trick, or any other activity to keep their minds busy. You’ll need to start your party early, before fireworks begin. Obviously once the dogs are upset about the noise, you won’t be able to get them focused on your activities.
Antianxiety drugs are available from your vet, but don’t use tranquilizers that simply make the dog unable to respond. He will still be terrified but will be unable to do anything to cope with his fear.
Some owners have had luck with pheromone products and herbal remedies, though I’ve never found them to be effective for my dogs.
Fortunately, I have only one whippet who is bothered by thunderstorms and fireworks. Juliet has been all but cured of her fear with a thunder or anxiety shirt. This is a snugly fitting shirt that provides constant and gentle pressure, which in many cases has a calming effect on the dog. Frankly, I thought the whole idea was just another way to spend money on the dogs for a useless product. After encouragement from a friend, I finally broke down and ordered one. The results have been truly amazing. Juliet is still a bit nervous during the worst storms, but the pacing and panting and panicking are gone.
A few important notes, however. 1) These shirts and wraps do not work for all dogs. Like most “cures” for various behavior problems, this solution is not 100 percent. 2) The shirt must fit snugly. Manufacturers recommend getting a size smaller than measurements indicate. 3) If your dog is not the typical dog shape — think Lab, beagle, setter — such as a Basset, Sighthound, or dachshund, you may have to get a custommade shirt. You can find one online.
Remember that July fourth comes only once a year. Batten the hatches and you can get through this. It is not worth alienating neighbors over one night.
Enjoy your own fourth and keep your dogs safe!