Independence Day fireworks can frighten your puppy and instill a lifelong fear of loud noises.
FOURTH OF JULY FEAR FACTOR
E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, Exhibition Editor
Independence Day celebration with explosions and shouting crowds can traumatize your dog, causing lifelong fear phobias so leave him home on the 4th of July!
If pet owners do not take their dogs into consideration during our national holiday, many pets will panic and are gone forever. Unfortunately, one must also take into consideration the 3rd of July as there are always those “jumping the gun” when it comes to fireworks celebrations.
Dogs do not understand unexpected loud noises. If you have a hunting dog, it may become gun shy if left outside during July 4th fireworks. Many dogs have phobias about thunderstorms. Lightening sends them beneath the bed. It is up to each pet owner to put their dogs where they are most comfortable. We cannot guess when a loud boom will shake the house; therefore we should plan ahead for our dog’s protection.
Your dog is an accurate weatherman and if you note his behavior, he will even let you know a storm is brewing. Dogs easily sense storms and other catastrophes.
There are those pet owners who feel it is cruel to crate a dog. It is worse to allow the dog to run loose during the Fourth Of July. Dogs will panic and run into the street into traffic. Too often pets are never found again. Dogs have acute hearing and smell. They will be afraid and may panic at all the noise and odor of gun powder exploding everywhere.
One female I owned slept with me. Once during the night I heard a freight train. My sleepy thought was “That’s strange. We have no railroad tracks nearby”. The dog went crazy, digging and pawing. Not thinking, I reprimanded her and told her to quiet down. Low and behold, a tornado went through our yard. The next morning we found a small shed upturned over a huge tree trunk and the dog house roofs were blown several feet to our nearby pond.
From that day forward, when she heard lightening or thunder, she would become frantic. Putting her in the basement, we would cover her with a towel and turn the radio on until the storm passed. Dogs are cave animals and caves mean security. Thus, the crate a pet owner might consider cruel is protection from not only weather. A cave is also protection from strangers; it’s why your dog camps beneath your end table or under your bed where he feels secure and in control.
Never leave your dog loose in the house during fireworks time. Put him in a secure area and turn on the TV or radio. Do not leave it outside during the July celebration. Nothing spoils a fun day more than looking for a lost dog. If badly frightened, the pet may never overcome the trauma and you will have to deal with this fear for its entire life. One cocker spaniel ran to the basement when it felt threatened. Finding the basement door closed, it pulled a thread in the carpet and unraveled the carpet several feet back into the room. Of course, when the owners came home, the dog was reprimanded. The owners never took responsibility and the frantic dog paid the price for being unruly.
Mark your calendar and be prepared. Some dogs might require a slight tranquilizer which can be furnished by your veterinarian. Even if the pet accepts the Fourth of July fireworks and excitement, be careful. There’s always a chance it can rush and grab a firecracker or pick up a sparkler. If the dog is anxious, withhold food for a time so it won't get an upset stomach. A stressed dog does not need a full stomach as it causes cramping and retching. Crating the dog eliminates the possibility of any problems and unneeded cleanup.
When the fireworks and celebration is over and the grilling is done, pick up all meat bones and utensils.
Do not feed grilled left over food to your pet as often we use “starter fluid” on the charcoal and this may be toxic. Pick up aluminum foil wrappers and burned out rocket wrappings. Do not leave sparkler sticks on the ground. Fill in any holes dug to position your rockets for firing.
If your dog is hesitant in coming out of its crate or safe area, do not make an issue of it. Give him time. Offer food and water and allow it to choose the time it feels the safest to reappear into the family unit. Your pet may be quite stable, but a bad experience can cause future lifelong problems.
The time of your life may cause the destruction of your pet’s temperament. It is a pet owner’s responsibility to put the dog or cat in a safe area during this time where they are secure from the outside commotion. Whether you turn on country music or a ball game, your pet will consider this white noise and be more relaxed in its environment. Do not feel compelled to take your dog to any celebrations. Before you light that first firecracker, be a good pet owner.
July 4th comes once a year. Your pet should come first every day in your life. Make sure those days are fun and free from fear. Being a responsible pet owner is making sure your dog is comfortable in any situation.