Creating a “Happy Place” for Pets on 4th of July

It is that time of year, when the sun sets on the horizon and the sounds of pops, bangs, and booms disturb the silence of evening. It is at this moment that many people realize their pet’s sensitivity to loud sounds and explosions as it becomes apparent that they are extremely nervous and scared. Dogs instinctively start looking and searching to find shelter from the noise. At a moment’s notice, we are tasked with doing anything we can to alleviate their anxiety and come to their aid to bring about calm. Those of you who have prepared for this moment strike into action. Those who have never experienced seeing their dog so stressed are left asking, “what can I do to help calm my beloved canine child?”

Set up a safe quiet area for your dog in advance. Choose a spot in your house where your pet usually likes to relax. An ideal space will buffer the sights and sounds of the fireworks; spaces such as a walk-in closet, a basement, a room with blackout curtains, or their usual resting area. Help make the space serene and peaceful by drawing the blinds. Creating this “happy place” for your pet to retreat to will allow your pet to feel more secure and safe. Placing familiar items such as their bed, favorite toys, and treats in the space can be beneficial as well.

Drown out the sound coming into your home. Playing soothing music or white noise throughout the entire house during the firework display will help block out the booms and loud sounds. Closing all the windows and doors in the house will help with this as well.

Ensure your dog’s gear fits properly and ID tags/microchips are current. Collars and harnesses often get loose over time on daily walks and can slip easily off your dog’s head with a gentle tug. In case your pup gets loose during this stressful time, it is vital that their ID tags and microchips are updated. Microchips are proven to be one of the most effective tools we can use to get our dogs safely back home!

Stay calm, do not make a fuss! Dogs mirror whatever energy you put out there. When your pet is anxious or stressed, it is hard to ignore the desire to coddle and comfort them. It is found that excessive comforting and pampering may reward your pet’s behavior or and, in some cases, confirm their fears. Besides a few calm strokes or pats, you should carry on as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

If your pet has a history of severe reactions to noise in the past, it is best to consult with your veterinarian prior to the holiday. Your veterinarian can recommend several natural supplements designed to reduce anxiety in pets. Giving them to your dog before the fireworks start may help relax your pet and reduce their stress. Additionally, your veterinarian can provide you with advice on the use of an appropriate short-term anti-anxiety medication to help your dog to relax and get through this stressful time.

Everyone agrees that preparing your dog for July 4th is crucial to you and them having an enjoyable holiday. Start planning now, and you will be assured that you and your pooch have a safe and fun time together!