It's a holiday eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed by millions of Americans. And it comes at a most convenient time for maximum enjoyment: midway through the kiddos' summer vacation. Picnics, parades, and the most traditional of all: fireworks!
Children and adults, alike, look forward to the annual display and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't enjoy the sky-high spectacular. But, we're talking humans here.
Unfortunately, there is another group of 'people' who dread the arrival of the Fourth of July - man's best friend, your lovable, loyal family pooch.
Even if you've never owned a dog, you undoubtedly have heard horror stories of seriously stressed pups who spend the night (and even the weeks leading up to it) in a constant state of severe panic.
All because of our penchant for the annual ritual of launching explosive devices into the air to wait for the inevitable burst of sound and color.
For millions of dogs and dog-owners, the 4th of July has become a holiday to dread rather than eagerly anticipate.
Thankfully, there are canine support organizations who work tirelessly to help pet owners and their dogs cope with the inevitable discomfort they feel when the boomers begin.
The lovely folks at Canine Companions for Independence have come up with a wonderful list of suggestions that are sure to ease some of your dog's anxiety - and yours, too.
The work begins when they are still pups.
It is important for dog owners “to expose their furry friends to a variety of experiences, sights, and sounds” at an early age
“Part of this is ensuring that a puppy won't develop a negative association with certain sounds, and the celebrations of the Fourth of July present some challenges, what with all the flashing and exploding fireworks, booming music, large crowds, loud voices, and laughter.”
If your canine is no longer a pup, it can still be worthwhile to try these tips:
1) Give the dog a lot of exercise during the day, before the evening festivities. A tired dog will be less likely to react to noise stimulation once the fireworks get started.
2) Don’t let the dog roam free in your yard, even if you have a secure fence. The surprise of sudden sounds or fireworks can stimulate the ‘fight or flight’ response, which can result in a panicked puppy scaling a tall fence.
3) When walking a dog outside, use a leash to prevent it from bolting suddenly in response to loud noises.
4) If all else fails, skip the celebration and stay home with the dog. Keep them occupied with toys and play, so they will have positive interactions and be distracted from the sounds of the fireworks.
5) Keep the dog inside when there are loud noises or fireworks. Set up their crate in a room that is the most insulated from sound. The crate can be covered with a blanket, and a TV or radio can be played to drown out the thundering noises.
6) If your neighborhood is really noisy, consider taking the puppy to spend the night with friends or family who live in a quieter area.
One thing CCI stresses that dog owners NOT do, however, is too introduce your puppy to fireworks in the misguided notion that you can desensitize them.
“A dog can develop sound sensitivity, but not show it for several months. Do not risk exposing a puppy to fireworks, even if they don’t seem to be stressed by the flashes and noise.”
We wish all Americans a safe and happy Independence Day. And we hope that some of these ideas can help you and your four-legged friend make it through another noisy 4th of July!