Did you know that an usual large number of dogs (& cats) go missing every year on the night of July 4th when the firework craziness begins?
That’s according to Pet Amber Alert, yet this statistic is entirely preventable! How? By incorporating certain safety precautions and taking proactive approaches to keeping your pup exercised and calm.
Here’s how I’ve kept my pups Missy & Buzz calm & relaxed over the years:
My favorite proactive approach towards alleviating my pups’ initial fear of the loud firework sounds was and is thorough exercise!
If you exercise your pup thoroughly throughout the day on July 4th, especially in the afternoon prior to the fireworks, you’ll have a tired pup on your hands!
Remember, a tired dog is a calm dog who is less likely to be upset at noises.
Weather permitting, you can take him for a nice, LONG walk or hike, add some doggie backpacks to the equation, take him swimming or rollerblading…the list of possible activities you and your pup can share is seemingly endless.
If your exercise attempts are limited by high temps & humidity, try some of these indoor exercise ideas:
Obviously the pups still have to go potty during the heat of the day, and their paws might not be able to avoid the hot asphalt. You could try getting him used to wearing doggie booties that will keep his sensitive paw pads safe for those outings. My pup Buzz is trying on Ruffwear’s Grip Trex in the picture below.
Swimming sounds like the way to go when temperatures are on the rise. Granted, not everyone has the luxury of a readily available doggie pool in their backyards (we certainly don’t!).
There are, however, pawsome alternatives. Search for pet day spas in your area, which usually offer swimming sessions in their doggie pools.
Missy & Buzz Going For A Swim At An Indoor Doggie Pool
You’ll likely have to pre-book them, so act fast! Or maybe you live close to a doggie beach ~ indulging in a dip in the ocean and running along the beach will make for a tired pup!
Sidenote: I’m not a huge fan of letting my guys swim in lakes here in our NC neck of the woods. There’s way too many snakes and other iffy critters in there for it to be safe.
Dog Beach in San Diego, CA
Check out my blog post with a list of dog-friendly beaches in the Continental US below. If you know of another one that’s not listed yet, let me know in the comment section and I’ll add it!
Playing an extended game of fetch in your backyard or hide-and-seek inside your home will also rid your pup of pent-up energy.
Dog-Proofing Your Home
It’s a great idea to puppy-proof your home for the 4th of July festivities. Lock windows, front and back doors, as well as the garage, and double-check on that gate lock in your backyard.
Keep your pup inside the house to avoid him taking off! It’s still a good idea to have your pooch wear his name tag – just in case he’d get lost after all.
Desensitizing Your Dog
Invest your time & energy into desensitizing your dog to loud noises. Find a recording of fireworks and gun sounds online (on Youtube, for example), and very slowly begin to incorporate them into your dog’s daily routine.
Check your own energy before starting the session, making sure you are introducing the new sounds in a calm, relaxed way.
Offer high-value treats like tiny bits of cut up hot dog or cheese to associate positive things (=the treats) with the sounds.
Avoid Coddling & “The Baby Voice”
Don’t coddle your pups by picking them up (if they’re small enough!) or talking to them in an excited, high-pitched baby voice.
Dogs pick up on our energy, so a dog who is coddled will interpret that as reinforcement of his anxious state of mind.
The best thing you can do to help your dog win his anxiety battle is to be calm & balanced.
Play Soothing, Relaxing Classical Music
Fast and hectic sounding music like Heavy Metal, Jazz, and Rock n’ Roll increases the heart and brain wave rates, ergo the level of excitement, while slow, soothing music like classical has the opposite effect and leaves dogs calm.
The vast majority of the pups (70 % of shelter dogs & 80 % of home dogs) displayed the most calm behavior patterns when being exposed to a single instrument (mainly piano) playing slow tempos and easy arrangements ~ suggesting that dog’s anxieties may be caused by an acoustic overstimulation.
Two experts in the field of sound and canine neurology have actually worked together in creating several CDs geared towards allowing dogs to relax in stressful situations caused by different catalysts.
Dr. Susan Wagner is a board-certified veterinary neurologist and has co-authored the book and CD series “Trough a Dog’s Ear” with Joshua Leeds, a sound researcher. You can read more about them here!
Make The Laundry Room or Closet A Cozy Retreat
I recently took a refresher class in Pet First Aid, and the veterinarian who taught the class mentioned that dogs who have issues with loud noises do well in a laundry room with no windows (or windows with shut blinds/curtains) with the washer and/or dryer going.
The reason behind this is that the monotone sounds of the washer and/or dryer provide a soothing atmosphere.
Lavender Smell & Essential Oils For Relaxation
Another idea is to light a lavender candle and/or use a few drops of essential lavender oil on your dog’s body to help him (& you!) relax. Just remember not to leave the lit candle unattended.
I recently found out about the company One Fur All, who makes different varieties of pet friendly soy candles (non-toxic to pets, unlike the regular paraffin candles).
The Lavender Green Tea candle retails for $19.95 with $6.99 flat rate shipping, and lasts twice as long as regular candles (about 70 hour burn time) ~ it smells delicious & I will definitely be lighting it on July 4th! (You should also check out all the other different scents…Christmas will be coming sooner or later…)
Update 2019: I’ve been using an essential oil diffuser for the last 6 months and it’s been a wonderful tool in helping create a calm, relaxing atmosphere for my rescue pup Wally. I bought an essential oil set on Amazon for $19.88 (affiliate link) that includes 6 different oils:
- Breathe Easy
- Calming Sleep
I also went ahead and bought a diffuser, also on Amazon. It’s the Arvidsson 100 ml Essential Oil Diffuser for $27.99 (affiliate link). It has a metal case and has the option of 7 different light colors. I usually leave them off and only diffuse the oil, but that’s just my personal preference.
Distract With Scrumptious, Long-Lasting Chews!
If your pup is still not snoozing after having had an active day, offer him a distracting chew, such as a bully stick or a stuffed KONG Toy! Chewing will keep his mind occupied!
Bonus Tip: Freeze the KONG to make it last extra long!
Incorporating safety precautions & energy-draining exercise will make the Independence Day festivities enjoyable for your entire pack! Now relax, sit back and enjoy the firework display!
How are you keeping your pup safe and relaxed when loud noises abound? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!