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9 Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe on the Fourth of July

Independence Day is all about fun, BBQs and breathtaking fireworks for most people, but if you have an anxious, sound-sensitive dog, it can actually feel more like a nightmare.
 
The good news is, there are several things you can do to help lessen your pup’s fears during this noisy and unpredictable time. Solutions range from free to pricey, so there’s something on the list below to fit every budget. Here are 9 great ways to help Fido feel calm and safe during Fourth of July celebrations:
 
  1. Stay home
    If attending a fireworks show isn’t something that appeals to you due to the crowds and parking challenges, your dog would probably prefer it. You can hold him, talk to him in a soothing voice and pet him to allay his fears. Remain calm and steady because most dogs are very in tune with your emotions. By petting him with long, firm strokes and speaking to him in a normal, soothing or even upbeat tone, you can give him cues that all is well.  
 
  1. Hire a pet sitter
    Sometimes you just want to go out and join the fun. In this case, consider hiring someone who can stay with your dog while you’re gone like a family friend or pet sitter. If you choose this option, it’s a good idea to have the sitter visit your dog a time or two and even stay with him before the actual event to help him acclimate to the person and feel comfortable when you’re not there.
 
  1. Introduce pleasant alternate sounds
    Having white noise going in the background or playing calm music to create a pleasing soundscape can help counteract the loud bangs and explosions outside. You can also have the TV going just like any other evening, or play videos made just for dogs to entertain him and keep his mind off of strange noises happening around him.  
 
  1. Employ distractions
    Just like with humans, sometimes having something to distract your pet can work wonders. You can do this in a fun variety of ways, including giving him toys that dispense treats, Kongs stuffed with food, rawhide chews and new playthings reserved just for this occasion.
 
  1. Tire them out
    Taking your dog for an extra-long walk during the day can help encourage them to go to bed early and possibly sleep through the night.
 
  1. Desensitize them to the noises
    Before the big day, try playing recordings or videos of fireworks to get them used to the sounds in a controlled way. Start at a low volume, gradually increasing it as the day progresses according to how they’re tolerating and adjusting to the crackles, bangs and whistles.
 
  1. Talk to your vet about medications
    Most pet stores sell herbal calming treats that can help take the edge off during stressful situations. If your dog has severe anxiety issues, you can consult with your vet to see if she recommends either these commercially available treats or prescribed medication to get him through the night with minimal trauma.
 
  1. Research other anti-stress options
    There are a variety of products on the market that may help your lower your dog’s stress levels. Some pet owners swear by lavender essential oils made just for dogs, while others use anti-anxiety clothing (brands include ThunderShirt, Anxiety Wrap, and Calm Coat) that, like swaddling for a baby, applies pressure to the dog’s torso, back and sides and can produce a calming effect. And finally, there’s an “anti-anxiety, smart dog-den” called a ZenCrate, a high-dollar solution that plays music for your pup once it goes inside and dampens outside noise, light and vibrations.
 
  1. Be proactive with security measures
    Despite whether you plan to go out or stay home on July 4, make sure you take extra precautions to keep your pet safe. If it’s not possible to keep him indoors all day, use a leash to prevent him from running off and make sure he’s wearing his tags. Ideally, he’ll also have a microchip that includes your up-to-date contact information. 
 
By using several of the techniques listed above, your dog will feel safe and happy not only on the fourth of July, but also during thunderstorms and other loud events throughout the year.
 
What’s your favorite way to keep your dog calm during stressful times? Share your ideas and experiences with other pet owners at #LifeatWeidner
 
Weidner Apartment Homes loves animals, and we happily offer pet-friendly communities to all of our residents.