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Keep Dogs Safe and Happy Around July 4th

Keep your pets in mind this Fourth of July — fireworks can sound ten times louder to dogs than they do to humans. Here are some tips to help dog owners eliminate or reduce stress and fear for their pets.

Can you imagine what it would be like if your hearing were around 10 times as powerful as most humans'? 

Independence Day celebrations are great fun for people, but the loud noises and bright lights can be traumatic for dogs. The explosions, excited voices and visual stimulation can create confusion and fear.

With the big fireworks show planned for about 9:30 in downtown Sonoma, it's something to think about.

Animal shelters report that the Fourth of July holiday brings record numbers of runaway dogs to their doors. These dogs have been frightened and made frantic by fireworks, both sanctioned and unsanctioned. By being aware and thinking ahead, we can keep our dogs as safe and comfortable as possible during the revelry.

  • If you are going to a fireworks display, leave your dog at home where it will be the most safe and comfortable.
  • If you go to a holiday event, never leave your dog in the car. A partially opened window does not supply sufficient fresh air, and it creates an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
  • Always keep proper identification securely fastened to your dog’s collar in case it gets out. Talk to your veterinarian about implanting a universal microchip in your pet, and make sure that your veterinary clinic and animal shelter have your correct contact information in their database.
  • Don’t leave your dog outside. If you cannot bring it inside, cover his dog house with a blanket to protect him or her from the bursts of bright lights and loud bangs. A dog’s sense of hearing is acute — over 10 times more sensitive than humans’.
  • Create a special den-like area in your home where your dog feels safe. A properly introduced crate or kennel can be a calming refuge for it.
  • Some dogs become destructive when frightened. If you don’t use a crate, remove any items in the room which your dog could destroy or which could hurt itself if it chewed them.
  • Keep your dog away from the front and back doors. Your dog may be under significant stress, which could result in unnecessary injury to others or cause him to dart out the door and become lost.
  • Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and bright flashes.
  • Turn on a TV or radio at normal volume to distract your dog from loud noises and help it to relax.
  • If possible, stay with your pet during the majority of the fireworks. A dog often reacts more intensely to loud sounds and flashes of lights when you are not with it. Remember it’s OK to use a leash to help with your dog inside the house.
  • Calming preparations and Thunder Shirts can help reduce the level of stress.
  • Consider hiring a pet sitter to stay with your dog while you are away from home.

July 4th is a time for fun and celebration. By taking these precautions, you and your pets can have a safe and happy holiday experience.

Gail Chadbourne is a dog trainer based in Castro Valley.

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