Monday, July 2, 2012

Independence Day Dog Safety 101

The sun goes down on another balmy summer night, but this one is a little different. Your old dog's ears perk up, he raises his head, and then bolts (or slithers) for cover: It's Independence Day!

Long before you hear the first explosions of the evening, your pooch is going to feel them first. Dogs can feel the vibrations from those pops and crackles making for an equally disturbing experience even if they are partially deaf.

Here's a few tips on keeping your canine safe and calm:
  • Keep them inside - much as possible. If you can't, don't leave them unattended or off a leash outside even if you're in your yard. No matter how good your dog is around fireworks, a loose bottle rocket or serious explosion nearby is going to send them scampering. You'll never know how high your dog is capable of jumping until this happens. More dogs are lost on July 4 in the US than any other day of the year.
  • Frequent supervision - You're outside partaking in the festivities. Your dog is not. Check in on them frequently to make sure that they're OK, have plenty of water, and have have not injured themselves. 
  • Hands off - This isn't as obvious. If you're holding your dog or giving them a hug when they're upset, you're giving them permission to freak out. Be available. Reassure them. Pet them as you normally would. Just don't smother them anymore than you normally would. Speak in calming tones and...
  • Distraction is your best friend - Pull out a toy or treat they they haven't had in a while. Prior to the fireworks going off (and for some dogs, just as they're starting) play with your dog, give them that treat. Show them that you're not worried and they shouldn't be either. 
  • Extra car safety - Get a car harness, put them in a travel crate in the back seat, or at least have someone with them with a leash. My old dog LOVES to stick his head out the window when we're driving (so I now have to drive him around the parking lot once or twice before going home from the store... but I digress.) Even during the day, it's probably not a good idea. Keep  the window open a crack.
Put all thoughts of escape attempts out of your dog's head and be there for them and you'll have a safe and happy Independence Day. This works just as well for other occasions with fireworks.

Photo credit:
Attribution Some rights reserved by bayasaa