1. Safety at home: If you take your dog to a picnic, be sure to bring him or her home before you go to the fireworks. Check gates, doors, fences and other areas that a dog could escape to make sure that everything is secure, especially if you are having company or a party. Inspect your dog’s collar, leash and harness to make sure they are fitted properly, strong and secure.
2. Safety while out: Lots of strangers are out on the Fourth of July, so be aware of your surroundings if you take your dog to a new neighborhood. Keep a tight grip on your dog’s leash! This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's so easy to slip up. A minor distraction when you are out with your dog, like a small noise or something blowing in the wind, could startle your dog and cause him or her to bolt. When walking your dog, hold the leash securely by putting your hand through the loop and wrapping some of the length around your wrist to prevent dropping it.
3. Activity helps: Get your dog plenty of exercise before a party or fireworks start. Take your dog for a long walk or romp in the dog park before your company comes over, or before your community fireworks are slated for the evening. Tire your dogs out so they will not have to go to the bathroom while you're out at the fireworks. A hike is a good option for the Fourth because the trail may be less crowded than your neighborhood. This will also make them more likely to fall asleep rather than bark through the fireworks.
4. Calm in the crate: If your dog likes his or her crate, then put it in a quiet, relaxing place. Fill it with toys and treats; soothing music could help too. If your dog does not yet use a crate, today is not the day to begin crate training!
5. Chewing as distraction: Give your dog a special toy to play with at night. If your dog doesn't like toys, consider buying a nice bone for him or her to chew on while home alone. Chewing helps naturally calm your dog's nerves.
6. Stay hydrated: Keep your dog hydrated. Dehydration during the fireworks will amplify the anxiety they are feeling.
7. Keeping calm: Close windows, doors and curtains so your dog is less distracted by passersby and fireworks. This will also muffle extra noise. Set up a comfortable spot in a quiet room or crate - if you have company coming and going your dog may easily slip out. Shut the windows, turn on the air conditioning and some background noise before leaving for fireworks. If a Thunder shirt, Rescue Remedy or other medication works during a storm, you may need to suit your pet up or medicate them prior to the rockets' red glare.
8. Keeping tabs on your dog: Dogs can easily slip out of fenced yards. Double check that your dog is wearing his or her tags and collar, and make sure the dog is microchipped and that the microchip is up to date. Your dog should have the collar on at all times, especially if you going to bring him or her along for any festivities.
9. Have a plan: If you are out and about, make sure your family has a plan for the dog if he gets nervous around loud noises. Everyone should be aware of where the dog should be and for how long. This avoids a situation where someone accidentally lets the dog out in the yard after dusk.
The best prevention is to leave your dog at home, since crowds, explosions and everything else associated with the parades and fireworks on the Fourth is often too much for dogs.
Should your dog get out, immediately contact CDR (202) 567-7364. It doesn't matter if you are fostering, you’ve recently adopted or you've had your pup a long time. If he or she gets loose, call for help immediately!
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!