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Jul 02

The Fourth of July and Fido: Keeping Your Dog Safe During Fireworks Season

The Fourth of July is a Time for Celebration!

But Can be Scary for Dogs

UntitledPhoto Credit: Jeff Kubina on Flickr

Fireworks, hot dogs, and having friends over are great ways to celebrate the fourth, but all these thing (well…except the hot dogs) can be scary for your dog. As you know, dogs have very sensitive hearing and many are scared of loud noises like fireworks. Animal shelters see a dramatic rise in lost dogs during the Fourth because dogs who normally would not run away get loose to escape due to their fear of the noisy fireworks.

Preparing your dog for the Fourth is especially important for little escape artists like Min Pins. They can often slip through small gaps in the fence, and they will use their intelligence to figure out exactly how. Maybe a chair is too close to a 4 foot fence. The Min Pin could use the chair as a stepping stone to freedom and trouble.

 

How Can I Protect My Dog?

As stated above, dogs often run away during the festivities surround the Fourth because they are scared of fireworks and are trying to get away. There are many common sense approaches to minimizing the chances that your dog escapes and possibly gets lost.

Separate Your Dogs From the Festivities

  • Leave your pooch at home when attending firework displays. Even if your dog goes everywhere with you, you are not doing your dog any favors by taking it to someplace where it will be terrified.
  • If you are planning a fireworks display at your house, secure your dogs in a crate or similar space where they feel safe and is as far away from noise as possible.
  • If your neighbor is planning a fireworks display, scout out your local city’s dog park or other places you can take your dog during the noisy display. If you are on good terms with your neighbors, you might want to ask them if they are planning to shoot fireworks. That way, you’ll have a heads up that you might need to make other plans.

LOST DOG: Have You Seen SAMMY?Photo Credit: Michael Nyika on Flickr

Prepare for an Escape Attempt

It’s a fact of life that sometimes, the unexpected happens. You may have secured your fence and feel confident that it is inescapable. However, dogs can be escape artists, or as I call them “Houdini dogs.” Take steps to prevent escape and also to find your dog quickly and easily in case your dog successfully escapes.

Secure Your Yard
  • Look at your yard and fence. Are there holes or areas that are broken. Remember that if your dog is trying to escape, it is likely doing so because it is terrified and will be desperate to get out.
  • Is your dog a digger? Chicken wire around the perimeter can deter digging under.
  • Get on your dog’s level. Crouch down to the dog’s line of sight. Seeing what the dog sees can be helpful to find weak spots that you might have missed otherwise.
Update Your Dog’s Information

Take steps beforehand to find your dog easily in case of escape.

  • Check your dog’s collar. Does it fit? Has it deteriorated to the point needs to be replaced? In addition to the main material of the collar, check the buckle. Does it still securely hold the collar together. Check any stitching that holds the buckle to the strap. Have threads come loose? Are the holes in the collar likely to break upon mild to moderate tension? If any of these things are true, get a new collar. A collar makes a dog much more findable.
  • Is your dog’s rabies tag up to date and readable? If you haven’t put this year’s rabies tag on your dog’s collar, this is the time to do it. A rabies tag can make a world of difference in how your dog is treated at the shelter or if it bites someone. Remember:  a usually docile dog will bite to defend itself, and a dog terrified from the noise of fireworks will be in defense mode. Also, make sure that the tags are readable. If your dog has chewed it’s tag to the point that it can no longer be read, the tag isn’t useful. Most veterinarians will replace these tags free of charge.
  • Does your dog have a tag with your contact information? Dogs can be traced to their owners through a rabies tag, but reunions will happen much faster if you can be contacted directly. The faster you can find your dog, the better. Plus, it will make room at the shelter for other lost dogs.
  • Microchip, microchip, microchip! This is a quick and easy way for a shelter to find dog owners. Plus, it is an extra line of security in case a collar falls off. Inserting a microchip is a quick procedure in which a small device, about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the skin. It is quick, reliable, and essentially painless to the dog.

I Lost My Dog! Now What?

  1. Don’t Panic! You will think much more clearly if you focus on logical and rational steps to find your dog.
  2. Call area animal shelters. In addition to the closest animal shelter, call others in the vicinity, and call back often if you do not find your dog soon. Make sure to stay on friendly terms with the workers. We as humans are often not at our most tactful when in an emotionally upsetting situation, but remember that most animal shelter workers truly want to find an animal’s owner. Don’t take your frustration out on them.
  3. Put up fliers. Start with places closest to your house and work out from there. Also, go to places the dog might frequent like the park or other favorite spots in the neighborhood.
  4. Alert your neighbors. In addition to the fliers, it never hurts to knock on your neighbor’s door. Many will take the matter seriously and actively look for your dog. When one of my dogs was loose, I went to the neighborhood park and told all the dog owners there about my lost dog. Most began actively looking for my dog as they walked their dog around the neighborhood. I was grateful to have such great neighbors!
  5. Pound the pavement. Your dog is likely somewhere in the neighborhood, and you can’t find it if you aren’t out there. Consider using a bicycle as it will allow you to cover more ground than being on foot.
  6. Social media. Many of your friends on social media likely live or work the same city if not neighborhood that you do, and the great thing about social media is that the message can be shared quickly.

How Can You Help?

Foster a Dog

As I mentioned earlier, the shelters typically see a dramatic increase of residents in the time surrounding the Fourth of July. You can help ease the shelter’s burden by fostering a dog. Many dogs lost during the Fourth’s festivities have homes and owners who desperately want them back. If this is the case, you would only need to foster a dog for a short time, and yet it could make a huge difference to the overwhelmed shelter as well as make an owner grateful that the dog had a safe place to stay during its hiatus from home.

Volunteer at a Shelter

If you can’t foster a dog, consider volunteering at a shelter for a short time to ease the burden of caring for all the dogs that are displaced during the Fourth. Brushing a shedding dog’s hair can dramatically add to the comfort of a dog in hot weather, and playing with a dog can reduce its stress level. Imagine how scared you would be if you were away from home and thrown in “jail” without knowing what will happen to you. Thus, reducing stress is valuable to the health and well-being of the dog.

Have Fun and Keep Safe

Finally, I would like to tell my readers to have a great Fourth of July! Keep all members of your family in mind as you go about your festivities, and I wish you a wonderful holiday.

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3 comments

  1. Kate

    Your article is most helpful. Tyson is a very independent thinking dog. He is a rescue from a Min Pin society. I love him!!!

  2. Kate

    I took my Min Pin Tyson on his first long trip. It was approximately 8 1/2 hours. He was harnessed in the back seat, in his nice snug, expensive car harness. After the second hour, he had escaped and sat looking at me as I drove. My friend was surprised. Me. too! I stopped and decided to change to another car harness, each of which needed the seat belt to secure Tyson. Two hours later, Tyson had escaped and decided to go from one side of the back windows, looking at all the sights, which he could see from his harnessed perch.

    After a while, I stopped again. This time I made sure he was really secured. I even varied my technique for securing him.. All to no avail, I am driving along, singing, and talking to my road partner, when she said, he’s getting out again. I said, NO! Can’t be… She said, yes he is.. I glanced back quickly, and there he was, on his way out for a third time… He sat there smiling at me. Although I was somewhat frustrated, seeing that little face looking at you …. Well you know the rest. He then rode in his carrier bag after his escape antics.. If he could un zipper this, I said, I am going to be a very rich person. Tyson says hello…
    Kate

    1. Jana
      Jana

      Sounds like Tyson is a Houdini dog! By the way, you may not want to put it past Tyson to get out of his carrier bag, either. I put one of my Min Pins in a soft sided carrier that straps into the seat belt, and she unzipped it from the inside! Min Pins are too smart for their own good.

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