I was visiting a friend in Atlanta yesterday when one of his neighbors stopped by. He had noticed the Home Dog Training decals on the side of my car and wanted to pick my brain for some advice for Sawyer, his Miniature Schnauzer. He had adopted Sawyer from a dog rescue group about three months ago and he believes that Sawyer was just about one year old. He is a great puppy, but is very afraid of thunder storms and doesn’t like to be left alone. This week is July 4th and where they live always has a bunch of firework celebrations. He wanted to know what he could do to keep his little Miniature Schnauzer safe and happy.
July 4th and Halloween are the two scariest times for dogs in America. During Halloween night, our dogs hear weird sounds and see “strange animals” coming near or into our home. Poisonous food (chocolate candy, etc.) is also left for them to eat. On the 4th of July, their world is thrown upside down with flashes and booms ten times louder than lightening storms. They are often left alone while we go out or are taken right to the place where all the frightening stuff is taking place.
Our dogs look to us as their care givers and safety providers. When we do things or allow things to happen that frighten, hurt, or scare them, we aren’t doing our jobs. This destroys our dog’s sense of safety and can make them timid, fear-aggressive, and/or destructive. None of these characteristics are things we want in our dog.
So, how can we keep our dogs happy, safe, and secure next weekend (July 4th) so they will still be well behaved and happy? Here are some simple tips that we like to communicate to all our clients:
- Do not take your dog to a 4th of July fireworks show. Their hearing is far more sensitive than ours. As they are barking and trying to get away from the noise, they are in pain and extremely scared. This can make them fearful to travel anywhere with you because of this experience.
- Do not leave your dog in a car when you go to a July 4th fireworks display. They can become overheated and dehydrated quite quickly in the hot car. If you roll down the windows, they will try to escape or other people might try to steal them.
- Do not leave your dog in the back yard. The loud noises and bright lights will cause your dog to try and escape in search of a safe and quiet location.
- Have someone stay with your dog while the fireworks are being launched. Have him in a quiet room away from noises. Close the window curtains and turn on the television. Have some of his favorite toys with him. Keep him on a leash so that you can passively keep him close to you.
- Do not “overly comfort” your dog when he is agitated. Dogs can take this behavior as a sign of weakness at a time when they are looking towards you for strength. Calm him in low tones and redirect him through walking around the room or playing with toys.
- If you are hosting a 4th of July Barbeque, make sure that your guests to not feed him from their plates. This will encourage later “food begging”. Also, all that hot sauce and “barbeque” goodies might be poisonous to dogs.
- Your dog should always wear his collar and identification when loose in the house. The 4th of July is no different. If he does get out, that will help identify him and get him back to you as quickly as possible.
- Consider micro chipping your dog or getting him a GPS device for his collar. These high tech solutions provide an extra level of identification and safety.
- One more thing… Just watch your dog to see if he is showing any signs of anxiety or fearfulness. A tucked tail, hiding in the corner, pensive pacing, etc. are all signs that your dog “is not having a good day”. Help him through this time to remain calm and happy. That is your responsibility.
I know that you think you are ready for July 4th, but take one more thought about your doggie and his well being.
Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 with all your dog training questions. We have a lot of great dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Atlanta Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Atlanta Georgia.