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  • Writer's pictureErin Schwartzkopf

Tips to Help Your Pet Through the 4th

While the Fourth of July is a time of celebration for many Americans,

it can be one of the worst days (and nights) for your dog. Here are a couple of tips to help navigate through the fireworks.

  • First things first...your pet's safety is a priority. Every year, many dogs go missing when they bolt through doors or break out of fences. Make sure your dog has some sort of identification on it. Microchips are best as they will not get lost (though, sometimes they do migrate) or cause your dog to be hung up and trapped, but if your dog wears a collar, make sure your name and phone number are on it. We do what we can to keep them contained, but sometimes things happen and we want to make sure they can find their way back to us.

  • The next thing we want to do is whatever we can to keep them secure. That may mean confined to the house or a kennel run or even a crate. Crate training can prove very valuable for situations like this. I have found that my own dogs that are afraid of fireworks will often seek out a crate to hide in as they feel more safe and secure in their little "den". If one of my dogs seeks out their crate for comfort, I let them hang out in it.

  • My main go to aid for my firework leery doggers is a Thundershirt. There is a trick to timing it right and getting it as snug as it needs to be for your dog. This can take some time to figure out as every dog is a little different. I have learned the key for my dogs is to put it on super early...if I can get it just before the first bang (or clap of thunder), I am ahead of the game. I also learned how snug it needs to be, which is quite a bit tighter than I had initially thought. It likely needs to be tighter than you think, too. There is science behind the compression wraps regarding their effect on anxiety and the same science relates to weighted blankets for humans, squeeze chutes for cattle, swaddling babies, and calming techniques for some autistic people. It may not work for every dog or every situation, but they are not going to do them any harm, either.

  • I currently have six JRTCA Jack Russell Terriers and three of them could not care less about thunder and fireworks. Two of them are just over a year old, so we are intentionally taking steps to reinforce that there is no reason to be afraid. Rather than just quietly watch tv or fuss over the dogs that are upset, we smile a lot and play and love on the ones that are not scared. We do not overdo it, but we try to make it fun and just not a thing at all. The three scared old dogs get their Thundershirts put on without much ado, and then we cuddle and snuggle and play. We keep it very relaxed as this can have the opposite result if there is too much energy put off while doing it.

  • Desensitization is another route you can try, but it is something that you have to take your time with, so it certainly is not a quick fix. Depending on how far away the fireworks are, you may be able to drown them out a good bit with music or tv or white noise.

  • Sadly, some pups are just too terrified for some of these solutions. In these cases, medication may be the best option to help keep them calm and safe. There are several options that your vet may offer and you might consider talking with them about possibly using CBD oil. As with all medications and supplements, though, please keep consult with your vet.

Once you have made sure your pet will be safe and secure, please enjoy the holiday responsibly and stay safe!

Did you find this post helpful? Would you like to see more like it?

If you answered "Yes", I have good news for you! I am part of a blog circle comprised of pet photographers from all over the world. To see the next post on this topic, head over and check out Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography talks about the upcoming holiday celebration, and how to survive it. Follow the links at the bottom of her blog and continue around the circle. When you find yourself back here, you know you made it all the way around! Happy reading!

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Jun 28, 2022

Ok, the winking retriever and the JRT puppy - STAHP THE CUTENESS! Great post with helpful tips. We're in a similar boat; 3 dogs, 2 who don't care about storms and 1 who very much does. I purposefully worked on desensitizing and counter conditioning my youngest so we wouldn't have 14 years of fright ahead of us. Thundershirts are also a great idea, we had good luck with them in the past, however now they don't quite have the same benefit - she prefers a human thundershirt - me sleeping on the floor of the walk in closet with her!

Erin Schwartzkopf
Erin Schwartzkopf
Jul 02, 2022
Replying to

It seems like the actions have to be tailored specifically to each individual dog, for is so helpful to have a whole toolbox full of tools to choose from to create that perfect mix, even if the human thundershirt is in that toolbox!

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