Days like the 4th of July are a challenge to pet owners. I recently helped a couple with a small dog relocate here from Boston.  Their focus was luxury real estate in Washington DC.  We found a great condo with a view of the Washington Monument.  I immediately thought of the fireworks on the 4th and how their dog would feel about the noise. Even luxury real estate in Washington DC only works when your dog is happy. 

My first poodle, Poirot, just didn’t like the sound of the explosions and cracks of thunder or the way the air changes during a storm. It began to get better as he got older because his hearing was not as acute as it once was but waiting for your dog to turn 14 is not one of my tips!  Now, we have an active almost 3 year old standard, Captain, and the fireworks are annoying to him just like they were to Poirot as a young pup.  Since fireworks start before the 4th of July and go for several days leading up to the big day, I think we are in for a few noisy nights with Captain trading lots of barks for every bang of fireworks he hears. With that in mind, I found these tips to soothe your dog and I am happy to share them with you.

1. Exercise your dog before the fireworks start!

Make time in your schedule to give your an extra long workout before the fireworks begin. Tired dogs are calmer and easier to keep quiet. They will also sleep more deeply, and consequently, will be less likely to be disturbed by the noise outside.

2. Stay home with your dog.

I understand that not everyone can stay at home on the 4th, but your dog’s fear of fireworks can be exacerbated if you aren’t there to provide reassurance that they are safe. This is especially important if you have a a new dog in the house because you won’t know how it reacts to fireworks.  After all, you just bought that new home – and if it is luxury real estate in Washington DC – so much the better! 

3. Keep Calm.

Your dog reacts to your nonverbal cues. If you jump or tense up when you hear fireworks because you are anticipating your dog’s fear, you may make the fear worse.

4. Drown out the sound.

Turn up the stereo or television, and keep your windows closed during the fireworks. Something that can provide background noise, like a fan or air conditioner can help as well.

5. Respect your dog’s fear.

Allow your dog to hide if it feels more comfortable in its crate or under a bed. Don’t pull it out or try to force it closer to the fireworks in an attempt to get them used to the sounds. Just let it stay where it’s comfortable and provide reassurance that they’re safe.

6. Provide a distraction.

Break out your dog’s favorite treats, play a game, or give some extra cuddle time. You can occupy your dog for awhile by filling a KONG with peanut butter or another yummy treat and freezing it.

7. Try the ThundershirtI

Poirot has adapted well to his  Thundershirt. The pressure it provides has a calming effect on the nervous system.

8. Just say YES to drugs.

If you know that your dog will panic when the fireworks start, ask your vet if he/she can prescribe medication that can help.

9. Remove visual stimulation.

Keep your curtains and blinds closed. Removing visual stimulation can help calm dogs.  I know you fell in love with that big back yard or incredible terrace which defines luxury real estate in Washington DC, but be kind to your pet and keep him inside. 

10. Be Prepared.

Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags with its name, your name, and your phone number. Get your dog microchipped if it doesn’t have one. Buy your dog a license – if it runs off and is picked up by animal control, they will call to let you know they have your dog. And you won’t have to pay a big fine to get your dog back.

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