Keep Your Dog Safe During Fireworks

Prevent your dog from going missing and how to find them if they do

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Here in the USA the 4th of July is one of the most celebrated holidays, with almost 80% of Americans taking part in the festivities. The defining characteristic of the holiday of course being elaborate and intense fireworks displays. Many private citizens purchase and set off their own fireworks as well, often several days to a week before and after the 4th. This time of year proves to be extremely stressful and challenging for many dogs. These loud and unexpected pops and booms reverberating throughout a dog’s environment can wreak mental havoc to a dog that is sensitive to loud noises. Even dogs that are not normally sound sensitive can panic at the sudden onslaught of chaotic noise.

More dogs end up missing on or around the 4th of July than any other time of year and shelters become overwhelmed with the influx of runaway dogs that are brought in. The festivities aren’t going anywhere, people aren’t going to stop going to see fireworks or setting off their own. Your dog’s well-being therefore falls onto you. Ensuring that your dog stays safe and secure while Americans celebrate their independence simply requires that you become proactive and plan ahead. Keep reading to find out how.

Plan for the worst case scenario first

Don’t wait for your dog to run away to realize that fireworks make them scared or nervous. Prepare for that scenario first and foremost by ensuring you can get your dog back should they run away and are found by a stranger or brought to a shelter.  Make sure you have the following in place and up to date:

Dog license. Not only can having an up to date dog license help serve as proof of ownership of the dog, it can prevent you from receiving a hefty fine for not having one.

Microchip. Collars and tags can fall off. In that event a microchip provides a much more reliable way for a vet or shelter to identify your dog as well as be able to get ahold of you via the contact info that you have embedded in the microchip.

ID tags. If your dog has ID tags with their name and your phone number it’s likely that your dog will be returned to you much faster. More often than not your dog will be found and picked up by a well-meaning person, and only turned over to a shelter in the event they cannot locate the owner.

Recent picture. Having a recent picture of your dog can help expedite locating them as well as giving some semblance of proof of ownership should your dog become lost.

Take preventative measures

You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Adopt that mindset. Create situational awareness in regards to your dog. Where are they? How are they acting? Can they get out or get loose?

Under no circumstances should you just assume that your dog will be fine, and will go about their normal routine and behavior that they do the rest of the year. Some dogs could care less about fireworks, some are curious and won’t panic. However a large number become irrationally terrified and their behavior will be unpredictable at best. To effectively keep your dog safe it may take some management on your part.

Do not take your dog to fireworks. This is actually a great way to create a fear of fireworks that may not have developed otherwise. A dog’s hearing is around 4 times more sensitive than a person’s. Add in the fact that your dog will have no idea what the context of the fireworks display is and due to this will likely panic. A traumatic experience like that will be remembered for a very long time, and at the slightest hint at having to relive that terror your dog may begin to show an intense fear response at other loud noises as well.

If you are taking your dog outside of the home, make sure they are on a leash with a slip proof collar. Even if you normally take your dog outside without a leash, now is not the time to take chances. It is also unwise to trust a regular buckle collar to keep your dog secured. Most people put these on too loose, and even a buckle collar that is fit properly can be slipped out of by a scared or determined dog. Using something as simple as a slip leash or slip collar can prevent this from happening.

Do not leave your dog outside unattended. Even if you have a fenced in yard and normally can leave your dog outside for extended periods of time, don’t assume your fence will hold them if they are panicked. All it takes is an out of place fence board, a gap you were unaware of or a gate that was accidently left open. Many dogs can climb most fences if they really wanted to as well. Not only are you taking an unnecessary risk, but if your dog does escape, it may take you quite some time before you realize they are missing.

What to do if your dog does go missing

First off don’t panic. I know this is easier said than done but the more level headed you remain, the quicker you can get to work locating your dog. It’s a terrifying feeling and your mind will go to some dark places. Focus on what you need to do, not what could go wrong.

Cast a wide net. Social media has proved to be an invaluable tool for locating lost pets. Say what you will about facebook or twitter, but when a loving dog owner is missing their pet people will come together to help you achieve a happy ending. Either make the posts yourself or delegate this task to a family member or friend while you search the immediate area where the dog went missing. Make as many posts as you can that include a good picture of the dog with their name, a description as well as a phone number to reach you. Post on your personal page and ask people to share as well as in local community groups. If you know people in surrounding neighborhoods call them and ask them to keep an eye out. don’t stick to your own neighborhood, dogs can travel fast. Try to cast a virtual “net” that is somewhere in the ballpark of a 5 mile radius.

Call shelters in your area. Call all of the most popular or well known shelters for starters. If they don’t currently have your dog let them know they are missing and give them a reliable way to contact you should your dog be brought in.

Search for your dog. Start with where they first went missing, as this may give you some clues as to where your dog may have went. For example, not too long ago one of my dogs escaped the fence while most likely chasing a squirrel. The direction where she had squeezed under the fence was mostly wooded, with another neighborhood on the other side of the woods. Upon searching the woods and seeing no signs of her I called a few friends that lived in the outlying neighborhood. Within minutes she was located by some kids and returned to me, crisis averted.

If you have friends or family to assist, it will help tremendously to have a few people driving , starting farther out while a few people search on foot closer to where the dog first went missing.

Hopefully you will never have to experience losing your dog. Following the advice laid out above will put you in a good position to avoid such a calamity.

Stay safe out there, share this article with your friends and have a great holiday!