Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy July Fourth! Will your dog enjoy the fireworks?

With the Fourth of July almost upon us (and our Sibe "Wolf" is all ready for it!) many folks are thinking of picnics, trips to the lake or beach, parties, and fireworks. In the midst of all this fun, it’s important to keep in mind the sensitivities of our beloved pets. Some folks take their dogs along, while others leave them safely at home. With the celebratory fireworks of the season, it is important to keep in mind that some canines are troubled by the loud snap, crackle, and bang. Our late Akita-Shepherd Chelsey, was petrified of fireworks. She would cry and pace and try to hide in the farthest corner of the house. If she was outside when they started, she would try to gain entry into the house by any means she could, including chewing and ripping the aluminum door off the back of the house, along with the surrounding vinyl siding. Naturally, this behavior is not good for the dog or for the house. While the siding and door can always be replaced, the dog cannot be. For our poor Chelsey, who grew worse with loud sounds as she aged, the twice-a-year firework celebrations in our city were just devastating. We tried everything from snacks to music to using calming aids, but nothing worked. The best we could do was close all the windows and run the A/C’s on high to help drown out the sounds. (Sadly, our beautiful Chelsey has since crossed over the Rainbow Bridge as a result of severe complications from the canine Alzheimer’s.)
Our FiveSibes fortunately, could care less about fireworks, loud noises, etc. They take it all in stride, so we are quite lucky with this loving pack. During the city’s annual carnival, the kickoff is a fireworks show that can be seen from our own backyard, so we enjoy hanging out on the deck with our “kids” and watching the night sky light up with the beautiful display of fireworks.
Now some dogs are like our Sibes, and that is just wonderful, however, some others are like our sweet Chelsey was. If your dogs do not like fireworks, please remember that they are extremely hearing sensitive, so don’t “make” them be present for it. There are many good tips out there to help with keeping dogs calm this Fourth of July, but here are a few of our thoughts if your dog is fearful:

1) Definitely do not expose them to the great fireworks show in the sky. They will not enjoy it, even if you will.

2) Do not “reward” them for scared behavior as this will only make it worse.

3) Do not scold them for their fretful behavior, it’s not their fault they feel scared.

4) Sometimes there may have been something in the dog’s past that scared him/her. Before a loud event, try positive-reinforcement by having him near you and test out different sounds – for example: a bottle opening, a drum banging, a loud knocking, a textbook falling onto the floor, snapping bubble wrap, etc. Reward your dog if he/she does not react. If he/she does react, distract him right away with something else to change the frame of mind.

5) Try different distracting/enticing things while the fireworks are going off – treats, calm talking, a nice walk, or if need be, keep him inside and let him just hang with the family, picking up on the overall calm vibe, or as Cesar Milan calls it “calm assertive energy.”

6) Administer natural calming aids, such as Rescue Remedy. In extreme cases, your veterinarian can prescribe a calming medication.

7) Some dogs prefer to stay in their room or kennel when feeling nervous, if this is where they prefer to be, let them. Just be sure there is nothing around that can hurt them (electric cords, etc.)

8) Try playing some music or TV while the fireworks are going off. We found that music and TV were great calming tools with our FiveSibes when they were puppies, although they each have different taste in genres! Two do not need anything, two enjoy cartoons, and one just loves rock music. Sometimes, when they were all together, we would settle on the Weather Channel as it has talking, music, and “cartoons” (the 7-day forecast with the cute yellow sun or white snowflakes comes close!).

However you and your dog(s) choose to spend this Fourth of July, may it be a great one. Until next time, we wish a happy, healthy, safe, and peaceful holiday for all canines and their Hu-families.  

This blog is dedicated to our Chelsey (adopted 1993; passed 2006) whom we miss every day. May you enjoy the great fireworks display in the sky in peace over the Rainbow Bridge.


  1. What a beaWOOty!

    I'm not much fur them - I get a bit anxious - and since we live on the edge of golf khourse that has a display at after dark, Mom keeps her eyes out fur me -

    She'll usually go outside fur the last bit of the display and flashiebeastievideo it -

    Mom did two PSA's this week reminding evFURRYone to watch out - one on transport video and one on Walkin' Wednesday!

    Thanks fur yours!


  2. flashiebeasties, I love it! I will have to go check out the posts. Thanks!

  3. What a beautiful photo. Happy 4th of July to you guys as well.

  4. Thanks for the super tips. Mom tries to take me for super long walk and exercise so by the time the fireworks go off around here, I'm super tired.
    PS..the pensive look is very becoming

  5. Woos! great tips! I used to be unafraid but last year it was like the world was ending, and I peed in the house... Mom got some Valium this year, because Scampi the border collie is afraid of everything!
    Have a safe and Happy 4th!
    ~husky kisses~
    -Kira The BeaWootiful

  6. Beautiful pic! We don't go anywhere for the fourth. Beth does not like fireworks and if we want to watch the show we can see it from our living room window. But most of the time we are in bed by then....we celebrate by relaxing in the air condition and watching a good movie! Have a safe and fun fourth!

  7. What a beautiful girl!

    Layla doesn't care one way or another. Last May, I took her to a temperament test put on by the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) and one of the sub-tests is, someone is hiding behind a wall of some sort and fires three shots with a .22 starter pistol, to gauge how the dog reacts/recovers to a sudden noise. Layla didn't even glance or move her ears and the Chief Tester actually asked if I take her to a gun range. (I don't). I'm fortunate that she also takes things in stride. She's spoiling me for if I ever get a "soft" dog.

    A co-worker of mine has a Yorkie who is petrified of them. I'll definitely pass along your tips to her.

    Thanks so much for the post and for thinking about all the dogs! I hope you and your pack have a Happy and safe 4th of July!

  8. Chelsea was very beautiful. We are sure you miss her a lot.

    We aren't crazy about the fireworks either, but we got lucky - it rained and most of the neighborhood ones didn't happen and a lot of the town displays were cancelled.

    Woow - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  9. The FiveSibes and their Hu-Family hopes everyone had a safe, and uneventful Fourth with their furbabies! Thank you for visiting us here and taking the time to comment. We love hearing from you!