Fireworks around the 4th of July can be stressful for our dogs. I’m sharing these suggestions and ideas to help you keep your dogs as safe and comfortable as can be.

Phone Numbers for Safety

Because a frightened dog may dash out the door or tear out of your arms when startled by a loud noise, make sure your dog is wearing ID information on their collar at all times. I keep a couple of extra tags with my local number (and cell phone number) on hand for guests to use, as well. The most important information is the phone number where you can be reached.

Other important information that you’ll want handy: your town’s Animal Control Officer (ACO) and the humane society/animal rescue/dog pound where your town cares for lost dogs. An internet search for “NH local police non-emergency phone numbers” is a good place to start when looking for the phone number for your local ACO. Remember–a lost dog may be urgent to you, but it’s not a 911 Emergency. In south-west New Hampshire, almost 44 local towns place found animals in temporary holding at Monadnock Humane Society (MHS.) (603) 352-9011 Found pets brought to MHS will be given food, water, shelter, and be released to you when shelter staff arrives in the morning. Leave a phone message with your name, phone number, and a description of your pet and they will set up a time to reunite you.

Now that you’re a bit prepared if your pup runs off, let’s think about how to keep them calmer and more comfortable during the unpredictable noises that surround this holiday.

Cartoon image of lady hugging her dog to emphasize that reassuring your dog will help them feel better.

Reassurance Does Not Reward Fear

Fear is an emotion, not a behavior. A frightened animal who comes to you seeking reassurance will benefit from petting, hugs, and love. You can not strengthen fear by giving your pet love and kindness. You will not increase fear by letting your dog cuddle with you when they’re afraid. So, go ahead and reassure a dog who is frightened by the noises of the neighborhood fireworks. 

Secure Safe Places are Good

Dogs often select places in their home that feel cozy and secure. If your dog has a place like that, whether it’s their crate, or a “cave” under the dining room table, or a cubby under the stairs, encourage your dog to seek their secure place when the fireworks start. You may want to sit nearby. Many dogs who are frightened will not eat treats, but you can strengthen your dog’s sense of safety and happiness in the special safe place by offering lots of food rewards there for the week before the 4th of July

Nutraceuticals Can Help

There are a number of over-the-counter calming products that can help your pup take those fireworks in stride. The ones I like best use Colostrum, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), and L-Theanine.  One brand is called Calming; another is called Composure. These provide a bit of short-acting relaxation without making the dog woozy.

CBD Oil products also have potential benefit for keeping your dog calmer when the cherry bombs are bursting in air, however their effectiveness for anxiety is based on longer-term, continued use. Your veterinarian may be able to offer stronger and more long-lasting anti-anxiety medications for dogs whose discomfort is extreme.

Keep them Company

Generally, the best thing you can do to help your dog enjoy (or at least tolerate) the 4th of July Fireworks (and other erratic noise situations such as thunderstorms) is to keep them near you. If your location is unfenced, keep them on a leash or a long-line. Or just cuddle with them indoors. Happy Holiday!

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