On the 4th of July, you can expect a steady supply of food, drinks, and parties. If you’re lucky, it may even mean a three-day weekend.
The biggest highlight, however, is the fireworks. Simply put, it’s fun…or is it?
“Calming Companions” at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
During last year’s 4th of July celebrations, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, in Phoenix, Arizona, came up with a way to deal with some of the stress dogs experience during fireworks. They called it “Calming Companions.”
They invited members of the community to come to sit with the cats and dogs being sheltered there during the 4th of July celebrations.
Believe it or not, about 200 people showed up to comfort the animals and let them know they were safe, despite the loud sounds coming from outside.
As many of us know, the loud sound of fireworks going off all of a sudden can be a traumatizing experience for animals. It can be even worse for animals in shelters because they are in kennels with nowhere to hide.
As the name suggests, these 200 “calming companions” were there to help calm the animals during the loud displays of fireworks. While the volunteers couldn’t stop the firework displays, just having something to take the animals’ minds off the loud noise was enough to calm them down.
The companions sang, read to the dogs, and even gave them treats. It was such a great success that the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control will make this a regular event every 4th of July.
Dogs during fireworks
It’s a well-known fact that animal shelters across the U.S. see an uptick in lost animals on the 4th of July. When fireworks go off, some dogs end up terrified.
Many of our canine companions who are indoors will pace up and down, bark, whimper, and sometimes do damage trying to escape. Dogs that are left outside often just flee for their lives.
Preparing for a stress-free July 4th
There are a few things you can do to prepare and keep your own dog calm during any fireworks.
If you can, walk your dog earlier in the day before people begin lighting their own firework stashes.
Create a safe haven for your dog
Create a space for your dog in the house where they will feel safe. Do your best to soundproof it and let them get accustomed to staying in it ahead of time. If anything happens, your dog will instinctively run there.
Block out as much of the noise as you can
Fill your house with the types of noise your dog is already familiar with. Turn on the television, play some music, and close your windows. It won’t soundproof your house, but it will drown out some of the noise from outside.
Distract your dogs and give them attention
Before firework displays start, play with your dog, give them some treats, and shower them with attention. This way, when the noise begins, their attention will be on you.
If they start to show signs of fear, you’ll already have a head start at reassuring them that everything will be okay.
As the volunteers in Maricopa County have proven, distraction is a great way to help dogs to get through fireworks with minimal stress.
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