Monday, July 2, 2012

9 Dog Safety Tips for the 4th of July

For Americans, the 4th of July often includes backyard cookouts, relaxing in lawn chairs with family and friends, games of bean bags, baseball and volleyball, and of course, fireworks. And what outdoor celebration would be complete without our canine pals?

Although we may want our dogs to enjoy the 4th of July with us, there are many hidden (and some not so hidden) dangers to watch out for during the national holiday. Here are 9 tips to help you make sure that your dog stays safe this Independence Day.

  1. Give your dog plenty of exercise well before the fireworks start. A tired dog is more likely to remain calm than a dog full of energy is. Take your dog for a nice, long walk in the early morning or evening (or both!). Play in the yard or do some training sessions. Whatever works to let your dog release pent up energy.

  2. Keep dangerous items out of reach of dogs. If you're celebrating in the backyard with friends and family, you may not be keeping as close an eye on your dog as you usually would. Take steps to keep your dog safe by moving harmful items out of reach, including:
    • citronella candles and other bug repellents
    • alcoholic beverages
    • glow sticks
    • matches and lighter fluid
    • sparklers and fireworks
    • table scraps

  3. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tags. We're going to say that again. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tags. The humane society receives more runaway and stray dogs around the 4th of July than any other time of the year.

  4.  Don't leave your dog unattended in the yard (or car). Even if your yard is fenced in or your dog is tethered, dogs have still been known to escape. Dogs that don't like fireworks have been known to chew through leashes, doors and fences in an effort to escape the noise of fireworks. Even if your dog isn't afraid of fireworks, your dog could still escape amid the commotion of a picnic.

  5. Give your dog a safe haven. Give your dog a safe place to stay during the fireworks if they don't like them. This safe haven should be inside and may be a small, comfortable, enclosed space. If your dog is crate trained, a crate could work nicely.

  6. Close the curtains, turn on the TV or radio, and turn on the lights. By closing the curtains and turning on some benign noise and light, the sight and sound of the fireworks will be muffled and hopefully cause your dog less distress.

  7. Don't sooth or baby your dog. While your instinct may be to sooth, comfort, and baby your dog when they start acting anxious or stressed during fireworks, try to resist it. You could actually make the behavior worse. After all, if you praise and pet your dog during your training sessions wen they do something good, what do you think will happen when you give your dog that same comforting praise and petting when they're displaying anxious behavior? You will reinforce it. Instead, stay calm and cheerful. 

  8. Try to distract your dog with games or treats. You may be able to distract your dog from the fireworks by playing a low key game inside. You can also try giving your dog some delicious treats, like a frozen marrow bone or a treat-stuffed toy. High-caliber treats like this may hold your dog's attention so they don't notice the noise from the fireworks as much.

  9. Make sure you have your dog's medications available. If your dog takes medication to get through fireworks, make sure you have some on hand before the holiday.
We wish you and your dog a happy and safe 4th of July!

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