A Letter from Your Dog: 8 Ways to Keep Me Safe During Fireworks
When it comes to fireworks, most of y’all already know this: us dogs—for the most part—hate ‘em.
But why? Well, it’s a scary sound (BOOM), a weird sight (FIRE) and crazy smell (BURN). Honestly, it’s just plain weird…and it scares me. But it’s more than that, because unlike you, it affects my heart rate, nervous system and more.
Plus, the scary sights, sounds and smells of fireworks can trigger my survival instincts, making even the most homebody dog (like me) run away. I heard through the dog-vine that most shelters see more dogs on July 5 than any other day of the year. Hey, it’s not like I want to leave. Us dogs are just running for our life from the scary fire in the sky. Survival mode just kicks in, and everything I’ve learned about “heel” and “stay” is lost in that one moment of terror (sorry).
So how can you help me survive the pops of Independence Day? The most important thing is to keep me inside, but knowing a few other things might help:
Get me used to the sound beforehand. Some humans say that we can hear four times further than you, which means that the boom I hear is a jumbo version of what you hear. To help me adjust, play a CD or video of firework sounds leading up to July 4, slowly turning the volume up each night (not too loud, please).
Don’t “over-dote.” When I tremble in fear, you always want to give me extra love, cuddles and kisses. And hey, I love that, but I look to you for cues, so if you’re doing something funky, this tells me something’s off, which makes me afraid. It’s best to act normal—if you’re not worried, why should I be?
Bribing is a-okay. I might never love fireworks, but you might make them less scary if you play games or give me treats during the main event. Hide-and-go-seek and frozen peanut butter Kongs (yum!) can distract me from the bangs outside.
Don’t let me hear it. As long as you’re not watching a shoot-em-up film with loud noises, turn the TV up on July 4 to help drown out the scary pops outside. Soft music can help, too!
Don’t let me see it. Close the windows, blinds and curtains so that I can’t see the shenanigans outside. Remember, fire in the sky is scary, unnatural stuff for me. The less I see (and hear, and smell) of fireworks, the better.
Check your human calendar. Even though July 4 is on a Saturday this year, there may be fireworks in our town on Friday or Sunday. Check ahead of time for the dates and places of shows so that you know when and where the pops will start. And for my sake, don’t bring me to those shows! Keep me inside.
Make me a safe spot. When things get tense, I feel safest in confined spaces—under your bed, in my crate or in a corner. Inner rooms without windows are great, but please leave a light on! Add my favorite blankets, toys, treats and water, and turn on the TV or radio so I don’t hear the sound.
Exercise me beforehand. I’ll tell you now: if I’m tuckered out, I probably won’t react as much as when I have cooped-up energy. Earlier in the day (before the fireworks start), take me on a jog, hike or long walk. By the time the pops start that night, I might be tired enough for a…yawn…nap.
One more thing: Remember that thunder isn’t the same as fireworks, because I can usually tell when bad weather is coming—the air pressure will drop or it’ll smell different. Fireworks don’t come with a warning, and for me, that’s what makes them so scary.
So please, keep me inside, and prepare ahead of time to calm me down and keep me safe. That way, I don’t have to be another July 5 statistic.
Happy July 4th!