Preparing Your Dog for the 4th of July
The 4th of July is just around the corner, and while most of us are getting excited and ready to spend time with friends, eat delicious food and watch fireworks – the 4th of July isn’t an ideal date for a dog.
It is often loud, chaotic, and fast-paced, with people coming and going and fireworks lighting up the sky and echoing in the sensitive ears of our dogs. What can we do to make the United States Independence Day a little safer and more pleasant for our fur friends? Let’s find out.
Photo by @two_coyotes
Prepare for the Night
If you are someone who likes to have people over whenever the 4th of July comes around, or if you plan to spend the night somewhere else – you need to make sure your dog is ready for what is to come. Dogs and humans experience things very differently, and what might seem like fun to you might not be as much fun for your dog.
This day is problematic especially for dogs that are afraid of fireworks and loud sounds, or that don’t do well with new people coming to the house. Does this sound like your dog? Don’t worry – there are a few things you can do to help things run a little more smoothly.
On a side note – why not get a fancy pet portrait of your dog to hang by the entrance, so that your guests can see just how important he is in your lives? Perhaps that could make them a little extra considerate during dinner.
Step number one is to make sure to exercise your dog before guests start arriving. Give your pooch as much physical exercise as you can in the morning and during the day, so that he or she is tired when guests start knocking on the door. A tired dog is less likely to freak out at the sound of fireworks or when having people running in and out of the house.
A good plan is to take a long walk in the morning, and perhaps squeeze in a trip to the dog park as well if you can. Let your pup rest while you prepare food and other details for your 4th of July party, and then get ready for another outing with the dog in the afternoon.
Taking a second walk will also help you relax and forget about any stress and pressure for a moment, and even if you are swamped with things to do – take yourself the time to get out for a few minutes. Make the walk fun and engaging for the dog, and let them sniff. Sniffing means taking in hundreds of scents and impressions for a canine, and it can often be more tiring than a run twice as long.
IMPORTANT: On days like the 4th of July, New Year, and other holidays when fireworks are to expect, it is best to exercise your dog early in the day and to refrain from any off-leash walks. A startled dog could dart into oncoming traffic.
Another great way to prepare for the fireworks and havoc during the 4th of July is with canine enrichment toys! Canine enrichment toys are designed to engage a dog mentally and encourage them to think in order to solve a task. These toys can help distract your furry friend from stressful situations.
Popular canine enrichment toys are Kong toys that can be stuffed with goodies! If you prepare these in the morning, you can stick them in the freezer for a few hours to make them a little extra challenging for your dog. Many choose to fill these toys with dog-friendly peanut butter, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, pumpkin purée, and more.
You can also make your own DIY enrichment toys using plastic bottles, towels, cardboard boxes, and other things you have at home, but just make sure you supervise your dog during play.
Prepare your guests for the presence of your dog ahead of time. Ask them to act calmly around the dog to avoid adding to the 4th of July stress, and instruct them not to feed the dog any food scraps or treats.
This is also a great moment to bring out those enrichment toys we mentioned in the previous section, to give your dog something to do while the humans eat. Giving the dog a task will prevent begging at the table, and hopefully, also lower the risk of the dog eating something it shouldn’t.
Food That’s Bad for Dogs
While it is probably best to keep your pup away from any food scraps on the 4th of July, there are a few food items that could be downright dangerous to a dog. Here is a list of some of the human foods that dogs should never eat.
- Macadamia Nuts
- Cooked Bones
- Sweetener (Xylitol)
- Corn on a Cob
These are only a few examples of food items that are bad for dogs, and that are either toxic or could potentially cause blockage. Be aware of what you are serving during dinner and make sure nothing harmful ends up on the floor, and consider leaving your pup in a different room while you eat if you think there might be a risk to keep him near the food.
Now, let’s talk fireworks. Even if you opt for not shooting any fireworks on the 4th of July, a neighbor or someone close by likely will. The best thing you can do is to take precautions and prepare your dog for the night.
Owners of extremely frightening pups may choose to leave town and celebrate the U.S Independence Day somewhere more secluded, but if this isn’t an option for you – you will have to try and make the best of it.
Start Prepping Early
If possible, start when the dog is little and use your TV to get your pup used to loud noises. YouTube has plenty of firework sound videos, and you can start by playing them on a low volume, and then increase the volume little by little.
This, of course, is not an option now since the 4th of July is only a couple of days away, but don’t worry! Not all is lost. YouTube also has videos with relaxing dog music designed for this specific holiday! It won’t solve the issue, but it might give your pooch some comfort in an otherwise stressful situation.
Always take your dog inside when it is time for fireworks. Even if you’ve never noticed signs of fear in the past, you never really know what reaction you’ll get considering the sound is extremely loud and unpleasant for dogs.
Some dogs end up jumping out of their yard and running away, and that’s not a risk you want to take. Take the dog inside, turn the TV on and if you can – stay inside with the dog and try to see if you can distract him or her with yummy treats.
If you can’t stay inside, just be sure to turn on the TV, radio, or similar to provide distracting background noise. Also, make sure you secure the area so that the dog cannot get hurt or escape.
Consider Calming Treats
Dogs with extreme fear may need additional help, and one option is to consider calming treats for dogs. There are multiple different brands to choose from, and we recommend you consult with your veterinarian first to make sure your pup is a good candidate for calming chews.
Not All Dogs Mind
Not all dogs are scared of fireworks, but you should still do your best to make it as comfortable as possible for your four-legged friend. Just because your pup wasn’t scared last year, it, unfortunately, doesn’t mean he won’t be now. Things change.
The best thing you can do, as your dog’s owner, is to remain calm. Dogs are experts in reading human feelings, and if you act strange, get stressed, or pity your pup – you could end up provoking what you are trying to avoid.
Last But Not Least – Enjoy!
The 4th of July is a festive holiday that shouldn’t be about stress and you worrying about your dog, and you should also be able to focus on enjoying yourself! Why not invest in a cute 4th of July dog bandana or a full 4th of July outfit to make your pooch look the part?
Keep in Mind
The 4th of July can be fun for dogs too, but when it comes down to it, it is a holiday for humans. It is important to remember this so that you can make proper adjustments, to keep your pup both safe and comfortable.
Human food is best kept out of range on July 4th, just because you never know what a guest might decide to sneak your dog under the table. Talk to the guests beforehand so that everyone is on the same page, and prepare a yummy dog-friendly treat your pup can have instead. Adapt our 4th of July to fit your dog and not the other way around.
Happy 4th of July!