OutdoorHub Editor: Keenan Crow 07.02.20
It’s no secret that we love dogs here at OutdoorHub, and with the annual fireworks season looming, we wanted to take a quick second to focus on our four legged friends during this chaotic time.
Did you know July 5th can be one of the busiest days out of the year for dog shelters? When you start to think about it, it starts to add up.
The fireworks, the food at backyard BBQs, and all the other good ol’ shenanigans that go along with out national holiday there’s ample opportunity for dogs to get into harm’s way – and motivation for them to escape too.
Even if you haven’t noticed any sign of storm anxiety or sensitivity to loud noises in your dog – and he/she is conditioned to gunfire – a barrage of explosions and flashing lights can certainly still cause some stress. Below are some great tips from our friends at GunnerKennels to help make sure your best hunting partners are comfortable during your backyard celebrations.
Tips For Dogs & Fireworks:
1.Understand What They’re Experiencing
You are anticipating the fireworks, but a dog’s acute senses makes him that much more sensitive to the all-of-a-sudden, magnified sounds that come out of nowhere. Some fireworks produce strong odors that may also heighten that anxiety. Just be aware that if your dog is spooked, he’ll get a rush of adrenaline and stress hormones.
2. Lead Them to Their Safe Place
If you’ve crate trained your dog correctly, he should feel most secure in his den; that’s his safe place. Be sure he’s in his comfortable place, preferably in the middle of the house, to wait it out when instinct tells him to seek cover. Place it in a spot that is easily accessible and away from windows. Put their favorite toys and blankets inside. Drape towels or blankets over the kennel windows to enhance the “den setting.” The dog will eventually see it as a comfort zone to hunker down in the sounds hit.
3. Expose Them to Sounds
This is really for the dog owner with a puppy, but exposing your dog to loud noises and recordings at an early age will oftentimes leave him unfazed the rest of his life. If it’s too late for that sometimes practicing with loud noises – gunshots, even recorded firework sounds – leading up to the holiday can lower his sensitivity. Make sure to associate a treat with those loud noises too, like food or a retrieve.
4. Don’t Leave Them at Home Unattended or Uncrated
If you know your dog panics around loud sounds, thunder or fireworks, plan accordingly. Leaving them at home alone and not crated – especially outside – sets them up to try to escape, do damage to themselves, or to your home. If you have left the house, be sure the windows are closed. We also suggest turning the TV on loud, or placing a fan nearby, to provide a white noise effect.
5. Ask Your Vet
Always look to the expert for the best advice. If your dog has had a severe reaction in the past they may recommend a mild sedative – and some people even use Melatonin or Benadryl (though, fair warning: they do have the reverse effect on some dogs).
6. Be Aware
Know that fireworks won’t be limited to the Fourth of July – especially since this year the holiday falls on a weekday. Be prepared for anxiety to ensue the weekend before. By the way, this is a great piece that outlines how unexpected fireworks (before or after the Fourth) can affect our veterans, too. Please consider talking to your veteran neighbors before you set off early or late fireworks this year, so that they can be prepared.
7. ID Them
Things happen: your dog runs away because he’s scared, or even goes off looking for the mark. Follow the old Boy Scout motto so that if the worse happens, you can find him. If he’s not already chipped, make sure you’ve got updated ID tags on the collar.
8. Finally, Stay Calm
Dogs feed off of your emotional state and he’ll be looking to you for reassurance that there is no real danger. Understand that he needs that from you – and simple things like giving a reward, or exercising him for a bit, can help.