While two-legged animals love all the hoopla that surrounds the Fourth of July celebration, four-legged animals often suffer. Every year, countless dogs panic, hide, or even run away on July 4, terrified by the loud fireworks and boisterous barbecues that their humans enjoy so much. For many dogs and dog owners, Independence Day can be an unhappy event that’s more stressful than it is fun.
There are some obvious things you can do. If possible keep your dog away from noisy crowds and loud fireworks. Fido may initially resent being locked in the house, but just remind yourself, sheltering him for a time is in his own best interest.
If small children are invited to your party, make sure you monitor any interaction. Little ones often are excited, too, and unexpected moves may create a dangerous situation.
Caution your guests not to feed your dog. It’s tempting to toss a hot dog or piece of barbecued meat to a begging pet, but that treat may end in an emergency visit to the vet.
Noora Keskievari, is the founder and CEO of OneMind Dogs, a dog teaching method out of Finland, that was developed in 2003 when a top-performing agility dog named Tekla suddenly lost her hearing. Her trainer had to see the world from Tekla’s perspective and rely only on physical cues to communicate. What could have been a crushing road block for Tekla’s agility career turned into a groundbreaking way for all dogs and their humans to become better connected.
Keskievari has other tips to help keep dogs calm and happy this holiday weekend.
Exude a calm attitude.
Dogs automatically associate the emotion surrounding an experience with the event itself, so if you’re alarmed by the fireworks or worried about keeping Fido calm, he will be, too. If you maintain an upbeat, serene attitude, your dog will mirror that behavior.
Lead with body language.
While soothing words can help calm your own nerves, body language is what your dog naturally understands and responds to first. Communicate to your pooch that it’s okay to hide in a safe place by showing him where to go.
Reassure with small treat portions.
Reward your dog throughout the day using smaller bits of treats. To keep your dog interested in remaining calm and following your lead, spend time finding which treat works best as an incentive.
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