Irish Setter dog celebrating 4th of July with flag banner. Irish Setter dog celebrating 4th of July with flag banner.

4th of July

4th of July

Happy and safe 4th of July to our friends and family of Ridgebacks. We are preparing for the fireworks and fun of celebrating the 4th of July. We are also concerned with the anxiety it can cause our animal family. 

We can attest to trauma and change of personality in our fur babies during times of 4th of July firework celebrations. Dogs can behave in such a detrimental way- even to the point of almost hurting themselves in their efforts to save themselves. This is a major problem explained by having a normally peaceful, loving calm everyday environment then all of a sudden it’s filled with extreme noise, the smell of smoke and gunpowder in the air, and the masters full of excitement and expectation themselves, giving notice that there is something extreme happening and the animals survival mode kicks into gear. 

Fight or Flight

The survival mode in us is fight or flight. If your baby gets to being antsy and seems nippy or overprotective, or they want to fly out the door or hug close to your legs and stay underfoot or hide under the bed or urinate or defecate the floor, it is a reaction to some strange intuition of things to come, or a protective mode for themselves or for their families during this time. Any animal if not trained to the sounds, smells and sights of gunfire and fireworks, loud noise and anarchy has the intuition of Survival mode, as do we.

Humans have a thought process different from an animal and it’s why it is so important to understand the process an animal uses for defense or performance for survival for the pack or themselves. It is not that they are chickens or scardy-cats; it is an acclimated form of learned defense. We are taught to handle situations mannerly or run and hide in a frantic situation, and of course even fight.

Our fur friends are taught to mind and depend on us for their lives. The wild defense is taken out of the choice and our fur friends handle themselves according to how WE have provided for them. If there is no provisions, their wild nature kicks in to protect themselves and we see reactions in survival forms. 

An animal in the wild eats for energy, runs for fun and protection, bites for warning to Stay Away and Leave My Defenses (mouth, legs for running, space to get away , you are challenging my defense space) Alone.

To prepare for fight or flight defense, our fur friends empty out, (kidney and bowel movements). It is hard to run away if you have to urinate or defecate and hold it while you run or fight. It hinders the ability for full athletic action needed for the situation at hand. So the animal will empty out fully for defense of running, fighting or a long period of hiding from an enemy. If they cannot get out in time, their natural bowel movement will quickly happen in preparation for this intuitive necessity. To them there is an enemy behind the loud chaos, thus unusual bathroom habits and behavior.

How To Prepare Your Dog

A prepared conditioning is needed in order to help your dog handle the stress of 4th of July fireworks. Start as many days or months ahead of fireworks season as you can and make it as FUN and loving an experience as is possible. You can get them used to firework noises by starting with a little noisy one first, giving GREAT reward during and after its firing. Do this several times til your fur friend is handling it easily. Then go to a little bigger boom, keep doing this til you get to a place where they are comfortable with this action. They will handle the bigger booms better if they know you are good with the little ones and so are they.

If you can’t do this, try to find a radio station or TV station with LOUD continuous gunfire. Turn up the volume so they can become accustomed to the noise. Leave it on and continue it for awhile loudly, loving on them and giving them praise for handling it. Play with them during the loud noise with a toy they can have while you are gone or sitting together during 4th of July activities. An hour or more of the loud noise should help them acclimate to the noise.

If crate trained, you may want to cover their crate with a blanket so they feel they have a cave like den to hide in. Put a dirty shirt with your smells or a pillow cover in with them so they feel their pack is close by or with them. Put their toys and some extra chew treats with them in their cage. You may even put a potty pad in their crate. While you are gone play a TV or radio for them to hear and, even better to see, so they hear voices and don’t feel alone. You could even put a baby monitor by their crate so they can hear your voice between the Booms.

But mainly just make sure they are secure before you leave and they are sort of acclimated to the noise, feel, and smell of the fireworks. Introducing them to the smell of an already detonated firecracker will let them see that smell isn’t going to hurt you or them. Let them smell it, lick it, or ignore it while you graciously reward them.

These are just a few suggestions to help your pets make it through this 4th of July celebration. Hope this helps some. God bless you all. 

Copyright 2024 BWK Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Built & Hosted by Morning Owls