Help ease your dog’s fireworks fears

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 27, 2010

On Independence Day we celebrate our great country and our freedom. But not all dogs enjoy the fireworks displays that the holiday brings.

Some dogs will sit in the yard with you and enjoy the show, but more likely than not, Fido will want to be in the fetal position under the bed.

There are some things you can do to help ease Fido’s fears. First, you can make sure you get informed about big displays in your area, so you can be prepared.

If you plan on giving your dog an over-the-counter remedy, consult your vet before administering the medication- especially if your dog is taking prescription medicines.

Feed your dog early in the day; because once the show begins he will no longer have an appetite.

A brisk walk before dusk will help burn off excess energy and will also help calm your dog. A walk will also give Fido a chance to relieve himself before the show begins.

Shut all the doors and windows in your house and don’t forget to shut the curtains. This will help block out any scary flashes of light and reduce the noise levels of fireworks.

To make your dog more comfortable, create a safe den for your dog to retreat to. His kennel is great for this.

Include his favorite bone or toy to make him feel more at ease.

To distract him from the noise, play a radio or television at a loud volume.

Your dog should be kept in a closed room, so he will not bolt out the front door when they are startled. But, just in case, keep an ID tag on your dog so in the event he does get out he has a greater chance of being returned.

Also, it is very important for you to act as normal as possible. Your dog will pick up on any abnormal behavior.

If you try to comfort your dog when they are scared by saying things like, “It’s Ok” or “Don’t be scared” you are telling your dog being nervous is ok and acceptable. You can reward your dog’s calm behavior with treats or toys.

If your dog shows any signs of stress, do not take them to a public firework display. Nor do you want to leave your dog tied outside during fireworks.

Even if your yard is “escape” proof, it is a good idea to take your dog out on a leash, if he must go out. It is not a good idea to make your dog face his fears on the Fourth of July; this will just make him more frightened.

Don’t shout or get angry at your dog for being scared, he will not understand why you are upset and this will only create a larger fear to fireworks.

Finally, make sure your dog has access to plenty of water, because a nervous dog gets thirsty more often.

Independence Day is a great time to get with family and celebrate.

Taking a few steps to help your dog through the lights and sounds of the holiday will make it more enjoyable for everyone.

Happy Birthday America! Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop