My buddies at the dog park are sniffing out all the signs: flag-themed apparel being pulled out of storage, potato salad recipe Internet searches, grill tune-ups in the backyard—it's clear that the Fourth of July is upon us. And my buddies? They're already skittish.
What you experience as bright, beautiful bursts of color in the sky after a long day of BBQ'ing, your dog experiences as SOUND THE ALARM, WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! EVERYBODY FOLLOW MY LEAD! Think about it: our job is to sense danger and alert you to it at the earliest moment. We don't let a UPS package get delivered without announcing the potential risk, so we certainly can't be expected to let bombs burst in air while sitting idly by. Most of the time we're alone in an empty house on the Fourth of July while explosions are happening overhead, our humans outside on the front lines. It's the stuff of dog nightmares, I tell you. Gives me the shakes just thinking about it.
My buddies and I have come up with a few tips that will allow you to enjoy the festivities and prevent us from hiding under the coffee table shaking, or rocking in the corner with strained barking chords:
Give us a workout Take us out for some high-energy activities earlier in the day (chasing Uncle Bill through the yard with water balloons counts.) Get us good and tired before nightfall, then...
...find our happy place Remember those forts you built as a kid, filled with your favorite things? Time to employ those skills, humans. Find a small, enclosed area like a crate or empty basement closet, and fill it with our favorite toys, snacks and something soft to sleep on. Make sure it's cool and well-ventilated, since hot, stuffy air makes us feel panicky.
Make some (pleasant) noise Sure, we secretly make fun of you and your white noise machine with the ocean and rainforest settings, but be a pal and put it near us whenever the fireworks are scheduled for. Or create some DIY white noise with a fan or play some soothing music that will muffle the sound of the fireworks.
Dress us for success Some of my buddies swear by special vests that provide constant, comforting pressure, which pretty much feels like an endless hug and soothes the anxiety and fear during the big booms outside. (And yes, they also work for thunderstorms.)
If possible, keep us company Nothing, not even a Kong treat filled with unlimited peanut butter, can substitute being together. Having a human with us during a fireworks show is a big comfort and could make all the difference for our emotional health (and for the cleanliness of your carpet.)
One last thing: This is a good time to remind you that we should always have current tags and information on our collars. Fireworks can trigger an instinct to run, so be sure that we're easy to identify if we do. Happy Independence Day, humans!