I was in Acworth last Tuesday working with a new Home Dog Training Client and her “very happy” Bernedoodle named Sadie. Sadie was just about a year old and still had all of her “puppy precociousness” on full display. Our most important task for the day’s training session was to have our client easily gain Sadie’s calm and respectful focus. With that achieved, I would teach our client the details of establishing consistent rules and maintaining good behavior.
Sadie was an extremely rapid learner and our client quickly understood what she needed to do to have a great dog. With the 4th of July coming up in just about a week, our client wondered if I had any advice to keep Sadie from going out of control with all the normal 4th of July fireworks and general commotion. I told her that was an excellent question.
Since Sadie was less than one month old for her last July 4th and still at the breeders, she had never “been in the thick of things” before. I was more than happy to oblige with some general guidelines and observations…
I started by telling my client that it is critical that she always set the scene so that Sadie feels safe and secure. She must remember that for the better part of the year, Sadie is not experiencing loud bangs and bright flashes in the immediate vicinity she had determined safe and secure. To put it another way, every day is not a pool party or picnic. Although we can understand this unique and great day, Sadie does not have the slightest idea of what is going on. To this point, I continued by providing my client with some bullet points to remember and implement on July 4th:
- Do not leave Sadie in the car if she and her family are going to a holiday event. A partially opened window does not give enough fresh air, and it creates a possibility for someone to take Sadie. This also leaves her alone and possibly scared when all the loud noises and flashes start to take place. On top of that, the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill will encourage her to try and “escape for a quick snack”.
- Always make sure that Sadie is wearing a secure collar and have her dog tags securely fastened to the collar. Make sure that the dog tags give enough information for anyone finding her to quickly contact them. If at all possible, have Sadie microchipped. I suggested that the Vet can read Sadie’s microchip the next time they go for a visit. Again, make sure the microchip implant contains complete and up-to-date information.
- Never leave Sadie outside alone in the back yard. Even if the yard is fenced and Sadie has never tried to escape, do not do this on July 4th. If you can’t bring her inside, cover her dog house with a blanket to protect her from the crazy fireworks. Sadie’s sense of hearing is far more sensitive than ours.
- Create a special area in your home where you can create a “safe zone” for Sadie. I have found that great “safe places” can be a properly introduced crate or kennel where Sadie knows “I am always safe here, no matter what”. It may take a few days or weeks of working with Sadie to properly establish the relation of “crate equals safe”.
- Some dogs will destroy things when they get scared. Even though Sadie is normally not destructive, on this day, I suggest that she take all the breakables and expensive “chewables” out of the room.
- Keep Sadie away from the front and back doors. If she is scared, she may run out a door that is mistakenly left open by a family member or guest. She might also skirt past you if you open the door just for a second while you are leaving or coming.
- Keep the windows and curtains closed to minimize noises and bright flashes.
- Turn on a TV or radio at normal volume to divert Sadie from loud noises and help her to remain calm.
- I emphasized the importance of my client remaining with Sadie while the fireworks were going off. This will make sure that she feels safe during the most “scary part” of the holiday. It will also allow my client to actively comfort and redirect her, if needed.
- My client said that she may not be able to do all the things I just reviewed. In that case, I told her to get a good pet sitter to stay with Sadie to keep her calm and focus on her needs.
The bottom line and the goal for all your actions on July 4th is to keep your dog safe and secure. The good news is that these things all can be accomplished with a little planning and preparation.
Please call or text us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. You can also email us at [email protected]. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over eighteen years. We have trained over 6,000 wonderful dogs and excellent families and are ready to help you.