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Why Dogs Freak Out About Fireworks

What you experience as bright, beautiful bursts of color in the sky after a long day of BBQ'ing, your dog experiences as SOUND THE ALARM, WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! EVERYBODY FOLLOW MY LEAD! Think about it: your dog's job is to sense danger and alert you to it at the earliest moment. He doesn't let a UPS package get delivered without announcing the potential risk, so he certainly can't be expected to let bombs burst in the air while sitting idly by. Most of the time, pups are alone in an empty house on the Fourth of July while explosions are happening overhead and humans are nowhere in sight. For your pup, this human celebration is the stuff of nightmares.

To enjoy the festivities while simultaneously preventing your dog from hiding under the coffee table shaking, or rocking in the corner with strained barking chords, follow these guidelines:

Give your pup a workout Take your dog out for some high-energy activities earlier in the day (chasing Uncle Bill through the yard with water balloons counts.) Get him good and tired before nightfall, then...

...find your dog's happy place Remember those forts you built as a kid, filled with your favorite things? Time to employ those skills, humans. Find a small, enclosed area like a crate or empty basement closet, and fill it with your dog's favorite toys, snacks and something soft to sleep on. Make sure it's cool and well-ventilated since hot, stuffy air makes pups feel panicky.

Make some (pleasant) noise Sure, your dog may secretly make fun of you and your white noise machine with the ocean and rainforest settings, but he'll thank you for putting it near him whenever the fireworks are scheduled for. Or create some DIY white noise with a fan, or play some soothing music that will muffle the sound of the fireworks.

Dress your pup for success Some pet parents swear by special vests that provide constant, comforting pressure, which pretty much feels like an endless hug and soothes the anxiety and fear during the big booms outside. (And yes, they also work for thunderstorms.)

If possible, keep your dog company Nothing, not even a Kong treat filled with unlimited peanut butter, can substitute being together. Having a human on hand during a fireworks show is a big comfort for pups and could make all the difference for your dog's emotional health (and for the cleanliness of your carpet.)

One last thing: This is a good time to remind you that your dog should always have current tags and information on his collar. Fireworks can trigger an instinct to run, so be sure that your pup will be easy to identify if he does. Happy Independence Day!

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