Does the sound of fireworks frighten your dog and send him running? You're not alone. While us humans see the Fourth of July as the quintessential summertime holiday, your dog sees it differently. For many dogs, the Fourth of July can be one of the most stressful days of the year. Did you know that the Fourth of July results in more pets ending up in shelters than any other time of the year? That's because a dog's natural instinct is to run far, far away from any perceived threat—in this case, a firework. If you want to prevent your pup from bolting once the sky starts lighting up, keep reading!
Get an Early Start
For dog owners, your Fourth of July plan should start at the beginning of the day, not when the sun starts to set. Give your dog plenty of exercise earlier in the day and he'll be more likely to sleep through the fireworks at night, or at least have less energy to get completely worked up. Go for a long walk, play fetch in the backyard—anything to tire your pup out so that he has less energy in the evening. Later in the day, make sure to take your dog outside for his last potty break before the fireworks start. Nervous dogs usually won't go to the bathroom and won't eat, so move up your nightly feeding, too.
Keep Your Dog Inside
Keeping your dog inside is key to making sure your dog does not run away on the Fourth of July. While this might seem like a no-brainer, many pet parents are under the assumption that if they have a fence, their dog won't run away. However, fear sets off a fight or flight response in your dog that can make him capable of things he typically can't do, i.e. jumping over a fence. When a dog is in panic mode, they can jump over a moderately high fence, and even your tiny pooch can wriggle under a fence or escape from a fence gate that's open for just a second. Your best bet is to keep your dog inside a room of your house that does not have any access to the entry points of your house. Good options are a quiet bedroom or a room in the basement.
Create the Calm
As you know, the walls of your house are not completely soundproof (and if they are, lucky you!), so your dog will still be able to hear fireworks while inside. This can make your dog nervous, so you can take a few extra steps to make a relaxing area for your dog to stay while the neighborhood is shooting fireworks into the sky. Dogs will feel safe with a den-like space, so close the windows, close the curtains, and cover your dog's kennel with a blanket to make it feel more secure. Ideally this set-up should be in the quietest room in your house that does not have access to an entry/exit. To cover up the sound of the fireworks, you can turn on a TV or a fan to make some white noise. If your dog is particularly anxious, you can use an anxiety wrap, which is a shirt that comforts your dog by applying pressure, similar to how you might use a weighted blanket to relax.
In addition to everything listed above, you can provide your pet a treat or toy to keep his mind off the fireworks. A toy that requires your dog to work for a treat is a great option because it will keep your pooch occupied for a long time. A KONG toy filled with peanutbutter and frozen, a bully stick, or a snuffle mat (you can even DIY one!) are some options, but choose whatever toy or treat you know will work best for your dog.
Prepare for the Worst
Despite your best efforts, accidents happen, so it's best to have a plan in place in case fido escapes. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with updated tags, and if your dog is microchipped, make sure it has up-to-date info so that your pet can be reunited with you as soon as possible. If your dog isn't microchipped, now is a good time to have that done, so if your pet is ever lost without his collar, you can still find him. Last but not least, make sure your dog has a pet license, or else you risk paying a hefty fine to get him back if he's picked up by animal control.