The Fourth is upon us! We’re going to Clear Lake this evening to celebrate Independence Day with friends – Are you planning to do something fun today? What will your dogs be doing? Our dogs are great around fireworks – they definitely notice that they’re going on, but they couldn’t care less about them. Give Zoey a scratch behind the ear, and in her world the fireworks have long since quieted, and she’s at peace. Toss Havok a ball, and he’ll play fetch for hours with the explosions overhead. Yedi and Duke are bombproof as well. Why? Because we’ve put in 100s of hours working with our dogs – training, testing, proofing and exposing them to anything and everything life could ever throw at them, to include fireworks.
Let’s assume your dog isn’t good around fireworks, or you aren’t sure how he’ll respond. To play it safe, let’s discuss some cautionary safety measures you can take to ensure your dog is safe tonight.

Plan ahead
1. Make sure your dog’s ID tags and microchip information are current. Go check your dog’s collar and look at all contact information on his ID tags. Then call his microchip company and make sure they have correct information on file to include your information, a good emergency contact, markings and more. Expect to be on hold for awhile because thousands of dog owners cross country are doing the exact same thing right now. Furthermore, if your dog has a GPS dog tracking collar, make sure it’s fully charged and that the “home” information is correct to ensure you know where your pet is at all times. We use the Whistle GPS + activity collars, and we love them!

2. Exercise your dog this afternoon (long walk, treadmill workout, fetch in the yard, backpacking on leash).

3. Check his kennel to ensure it’s safe & secure.

4. Put at least 2 barriers between your dog’s crate and the outside world. My dogs aren’t afraid of fireworks, and there’s a fireworks ban in Medical Lake so all should be quiet here tonight, but to be safe we’ll be adding extra locks to the boarding dogs’ crates, and we’ll be locking the door to the training building.

5. Each dog will have a beef marrow bone and antler in his/her crate so that s/he has something to do for the few hours that we’ll be gone.

6. We will have the A/C running on HIGH and we’ll have the box fan turned on HIGH with the radio on low to add white noise so that the dogs’ hearing is muffled.

7. When we come home, we’ll assess each dog to ensure s/he isn’t stressed before letting the dog out of the crate. A stressed out dog will panic and run the first chance he gets.

8. All dogs will be let out to potty tonight on leash, one at a time.

What we won’t be doing tonight:
-Leaving dogs in the yard. Fence or not, a highly motivated dog can and will escape any barrier.

-Taking a new dog out in public (to see how he reacts to fireworks). Tonight is not the time to train your dog.

-Taking a dog with us and leaving him in our friends’ fenced in yard. If you’re going to bring your dog somewhere, have him on leash and plan to have him with you at all times. Don’t give him a break in the yard, don’t leave him alone. Some dogs can’t handle being in new environments – and chances are, a dog that can’t handle a new environment also can’t handle fireworks.

-Leaving multiple dogs in a single space. Stressed out dogs, or fearful aggressive dogs, can and will redirect their frustration to the nearest object/being. Simply put, a nervous dog can and will bite the dog next to him. Fireworks create fear, aggression driven by fear is one of the worst types of aggression, a fearful aggressive dog is the most likely to bite. Separate crates is best.

Be responsible with your dog or leave him at home with predetermined plans for his safety.

Let’s have a safe and happy Independence Day.

And to all my fellow brothers and sisters in arms, law enforcement, firefighters and EMT:
We’re fortunate to live in the land of the free because of the brave.