Fourth of July is right around the corner, which means fireworks. It's a terrifying time for many dogs. For puppies, who are still discovering noises in our human world, it's a critical fear prevention time.
"Start preparing your dog or puppy right now."
If your dog already has a fireworks phobia, call your veterinarian today to discuss whether a short-term medication makes sense. Not all medications are created equal, so make sure to ask for details about how they work. It's a busy time for many veterinarians, so don't wait until the last minute to start this conversation.
ID tags & microchip
Check and update your dog's ID tags and microchip info. Even though you plan to keep your pup safely indoors, double check anyway. In case your pup accidentally gets out and runs off from being spooked, you want to be sure your contact info is current.
Start conditioning your puppy or dog to fireworks sounds today, especially if this is their first or second fireworks season. The goal is to build a positive association to the scary sound.
Start with a YouTube recording at a low volume. When the fireworks start, start delivery of yummy treats, happy talk, and a fun round of play. When the sounds stop, treats, happy talk, and fun stop. Gradually increase the volume over the next few weeks while practicing.
"As soon as your pup hears a real boom, bacon!"
YouTube recordings are good for proactive practice, but there's nothing quite like the sound of live, actual fireworks. Be ready to throw a "bacon booms" party on the big day.
As soon as your pup hears a real boom, bacon! Or shredded chicken, roast beef, salmon, liverwurst, Romano cheese, or another delicacy your dog never gets. This is the time for the big guns, not everyday dog treats. Don't forget the happy talk and super fun games too!
Make a plan
Make a specific plan for the big day.
Where exactly will your dog be during the festivities?
Hopefully your pup will be at home with you. If not, make the necessary arrangements now.
What is your potty and exercise plan for the day?
You may have to make some adjustments to your normal routine to avoid being outside during peak fireworks times.
Do you have all the supplies you need?
Think about white noise machines, super yummy food, long lasting chews, brand new toys, interactive food puzzles, and cozy beds. Stock up now.
"You are not reinforcing the fear, I promise."
Comfort your dog
Despite your best efforts, your dog or puppy might still be terrified on the big day. If that happens, comfort, comfort, comfort. You are not reinforcing the fear, I promise.
Create a couple safe and cozy spaces, and let your dog choose whichever one feels the safest. It could be a specific bedroom, the basement, a bathroom, or even a closet. Let your dog decide, and then provide as much comfort there as you can.
If you need any one-on-one help, don't hesitate to reach out. Have a fun and safe 4th of July!