6 tips for dogs and fireworks this Fourth of July

June 30, 2016

For most Americans, the Fourth of July is a time for fun, celebration and laughter. However, for our furry four-legged pets, the holiday can be a time of high stress and anxiety.

According to a recent article by the New York Times, at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most prevalent during the summer.

With all of the sparklers, fireworks and commotion, it’s no wonder why the Fourth of July is the busiest weekend for animal shelters and veterinary hospitals in the United States.

To help keep your dogs safe over the holiday weekend, Health Talk spoke with Kristi Flynn, D.V.M., from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Dana Emerson, a certified KPA trainer, to get some tips and tricks for keeping your dog happy.

  1. You can’t reinforce fear. If you comfort your dog when they are afraid, you will not encourage them to think that scared behavior is appreciated.  However, they will know they can look to you for comfort.
  2. At the first signs of fear, start a play session with his/her favorite toy or pull out a delicious treat help change their idea of what the firework sounds mean. The goal is to have the noise associated with fireworks to mean good things are happening for your dog.
  3. Don’t bring your dog with to a fireworks display. They do not enjoy the visual in the way that we do and it is not safe to have a dog in a large crowd of people while you are distracted.
  4. Let your pet chose a place to settle. Whether it’s in the back of a closet, in the shower or under a table near you, let them stay there. You can bring them a yummy treat (if they aren’t too stressed to eat) or try petting them reassuringly, just don’t drag them out to where you deem they would be most comfortable.
  5. Anticipate the possibility of your pet feeling scared and have them in a comfortable place with music playing to help minimize the noises a bit.
  6. We strongly encourage owners of pets who become really panicked to work with their veterinarian to find something to help with noise related anxiety. If you think your dog could be a little nervous or afraid, working with your vet early can help prevent future panic.

We hope you and your furry friends have a fun and safe Fourth of July!