/PRNewswire/ —

  • Keep your dog inside: Many anxious dogs on the 4th of July have been known to run away from home and jump yard walls or fences, and dogs or puppies that are tied up outside may run away in fear and have so much fear and anxiety that they choke and strangle themselves if left tied up. (Never have your dog tied up outside without human supervision.)

  • Stay home with your dog: Just because your dog or puppy is inside does not mean they will be safe or relaxed. Many anxious and fearful or phobic dogs on the 4th of July will become destructive in the house. This may include, but not limited to, trying to jump through open or closed windows, pulling down window curtains or blinds, jumping at, clawing or scratching at doors or screens to try to escape, running and hiding under furniture, destructive chewing, marking or fearfully urinating or defecating in the house, pacing, hyperventilating, and even self-mutilating behavior. Some anxious dogs left in dog crates, kennels or runs may try to chew their way out and do damage to their teeth and gums, or try to claw or paw their way out, doing damage to their nails, pads, and feet. Don’t come home to a bloody mess or a bloody dog.
  • Desensitize your dog: Several weeks before the 4th of July, start a program of behavior modification to desensitize your dog to the loud sounds of the 4th of July fireworks. Desensitization is exposing your dog to the fearful sounds in a slow, quiet and progressive way, pairing a positive reinforcer like a very high-value food treat, toy reward, pleasant massage, or petting, with the sounds of fireworks. You can download fireworks sounds from iTunes, and begin by playing the sounds of fireworks at a very low and non-threatening volume. Play with your dog and reward calm, relaxing behavior. Begin to teach your dog to relax on cue by pairing the timing of the reward at the exact moment of your dog’s relaxed behavior, while at the same time saying the word “RELAX.” If your timing is just right, most dogs can be trained to relax in about 20 to 30 very short desensitization sessions. Always start with the sound very low, and over time, as your dog learns to relax to the sounds, gently and gradually increase the volume and continue to reward and put on cue relaxed behavior.

  • Consider anti-anxiety medication: Talk to your Veterinarian about short-term anti-anxiety medication for your dog or puppy. In some cases medication may be warranted and a needed option. There are many safe FDA approved behavioral medications for your dog, their fears, phobias and anxiety.

About the author: Bill Glatzel, M.S., Harvard Educated Applied Clinical Dog Behaviorist, Phoenix Dog Training. For more information, contact toll-free at 1-888-502-DOGS (3647) or email: info@tlck9.com  


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