If you’re like me, you love taking your dog places. Having an obedient, confident and well-mannered dog opens up so many doors for fun adventures and experiences. Last year, I took Havok downtown for the fireworks show, and he did great. I first exposed him to fireworks when he was just 9 weeks old, and thanks to solid conditioning and exposure as a puppy, he’s what I call ‘bombproof.’ Nothing phases him. In fact, all four of my dogs have solid nerves and do well in all situations. Unfortunately, many dogs are not so confident, so if you have plans to bring your dog to the festivities, but you’re not sure how your dog is going to react, it may be best to leave Fido at home. When in doubt, always play it safe! Read this post for helpful at-home 4th of July tips. If you have plans to bring your dog along for 4th of July fireworks show, here are a few tips to make it a safe and enjoyable experience:
1. Check The Chip
The majority of dogs out there have a microchip, but statistics show only about 58% of microchips are registered. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), found that only about 22 percent of lost dogs (and less than 2 percent of cats) that entered animal shelters were reunited with their families, but the return for microchipped cats was about 38 percent and the return rate for microchipped dogs was more than 52 percent! That said, a microchip is only worth it if you register it. More often than not, folks get the chip and then put off registering it. If you have a file folder with your dog’s information in it, take two minutes to grab that file, call the chip company, and double check your dog’s registration information.
2. Review Equipment
Check the fit on your dog’s collar: A properly-fitted collar is snug enough that you can only fit two fingers under it; anything more is too loose. Check your dog’s ID tags: Is the information current and updated? Look over your dog’s leash: It should be in good condition, approximately 4-6 feet in length with metal hardware and a handle; avoid too-thin leashes that can be chewed-through easily or snap with the slightest pressure.
3. Plan Ahead
A tired dog is a happy dog so be sure to exercise your dog ahead of time. With less energy, your dog is more likely to stay calm in the midst of chaos. Just be careful of heat stroke if you live in a warm climate. A good treadmill workout in the A/C might be your best bet! And remember, your dog is a reflection of you. If you don’t do well in large crowds, or if you’ll be with a large group and possibly be busy or distracted, leave Fido at home. It’s just not worth it.
4. Keep Your Dog With You
Too many pet owners underestimate what a panicked dog will do. If you’re at the fireworks show and your dog starts to panic, you need to leave the area. It’s too much for your dog to handle and, chances are, using food or toys to distract or redirect your dog is not going to work. You can’t have a conversation with an aroused or panicked dog. Plan ahead and arrange transport so you can leave if necessary. Do not put your dog in a backyard or loose in your car – panicked dogs will do anything to escape. This includes fence jumping, bolting from cars, chewing through crates and more.
More dogs go missing on the 4th of July than any other time. Don’t let your dog be a statistic. Wishing you a Safe and Happy 4th of July. God Bless.
Amy Pishner is a triple certified Canine Training and Behavior Specialist. She is the Owner and Head Trainer for Valor K9 Academy – Spokane and specializes in Puppy Training, Basic Obedience and Behavior Rehabilitation Training. Amy and her husband, Justin, live in Medical Lake, WA, with their four dogs: Zoey, Havok, Duke and Yedi.