July 4th festivities are just around the corner, fellow dog lovers! It’s a time to celebrate, be with friends and family, eat too much junk food, and watch the beautiful fireworks bloom in the night sky. It’s also a great time to get out and about with our pups. Here’s how to ensure you and your dog have the best Independence Day possible:
If your dog is afraid of loud noises…
A lot of dogs are fearful of loud noises. We all know that the 4th is a lively holiday with plenty of ruckus at night. Fireworks, children playing, the neighbors party… these can all be stressful on a sensitive dog. But don’t worry! Here’s how you prevent a pup panic attack due to loud noises:
1. Use an anxiety shirt/wrap: Anxiety shirts (also called “thunder shirts”) are often used as a calming mechanism for anxious or fearful dogs. However, most people misuse these shirts. The key to calming the dog is by putting the shirt of them when they are CALM, not when they are afraid or anxious. When the dog is in a happy, calm state of mind the shirt should be put on. This makes the dog associate the shirt with bliss and calm. If the shirt is put on during stress, the dog will think the shirt means stress, fear, anxiety, etc. So, please use these shirts or wraps if you have them available, but be sure to put them on BEFORE a stressful situation, not after.
2. Take a walk: Dogs are in their best state of mind when they have been exercised. Just like humans, exercise releases endorphins for your dog and also makes them feel productive and tired. After a good walk, dogs are much less stressed and feel very calm. Be sure to use good walking techniques (no pulling, no barking at other dogs, etc.) so your dog can get the most out of their walk. They will thank you for their strengthened body and mind!
3. No coddling: As humans, our immediate reaction to an upset dog is to comfort them. We pet them and tell them everything is alright. Unfortunately, this can actually be very harmful to your anxious dog. When dogs are afraid, it is very important not to coddle them like you would a human child. By petting them when they are reacting to a fearful situation, you are telling them that their reaction (jumping, whining, clawing, barking, etc.) is a good behavior. You in fact encourage them to be fearful and anxious, so please do not pet and coddle your dog when they are very reactive to a phobia.
4. Allow your dog to den: Dogs are den animals. They enjoy bedding down in closed off areas just as dogs and wolves do in the wild. Your dogs den area may be their crate, their favorite corner, their bed, or any other space that makes them feel cozy and safe. When they become afraid, allow them to go to this place and calm down on their own.
5. Use a leash if needed: If your dog becomes very physically reactive, you may want to keep them on a leash, even if you are in your home. Some dogs may spin, bite, or frantically run when they are scared. By having them on a leash before any loud noises may occur, they won’t notice or mind their leash and you will be able to keep them safe from harm when they are frightened.
Safety in the Summer Heat…
July 4th is notorious for hot weather. It can be downright brutal depending on where you live. It’s important to keep you and your pup cool while you celebrate. These 3 simple reminders are all you need to have a safe, fun day of sparklers and flag-waving with your four-legged friend:
1. Be wary of asphalt and concrete: Dark surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks, become extremely hot in the summer, even after the sun starts to go down. Most of us typically forget how hot it truly is thanks to our shoes, but our pup friends have no foot protection. Their pads can be burned on these surfaces so try to walk on natural surfaces as much as possible with your dog. Grass or dirt will keep their adorable paws safe from scolding.
2. Never leave your dog in the car: Dogs are usually more heat-resilient than we are, but leaving them in a car can be very dangerous. Cars heat up extremely quickly in the summer months, even in colder climates, so even a quick stop at the grocery store could be harmful to your best buddy in the backseat. NEVER EVER leave your dog in a hot vehicle.
3. Stay cool and hydrated: Dogs dehydrate, too, so remember to keep a bowl of water handy. Also, remember that dogs have a hard time drinking until they cool down. If your dog is rapidly panting and won’t drink their water, they may need to go indoors to prevent heat stroke.