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Keep dogs safe during Independence Day celebrations

<p>photo by Shirley Williams</p><p>Boxers participate in a patriotic training session at Sunchase Boxers breeder ranch in Tulsa, Okla., owned by Tracy Hendrickson. All of the dogs in the photo are related. Sam (bottom, far right) and Izzy (bottom, third from the left) are owned by Fred and Shirley Williams of Van Buren.</p>

photo by Shirley Williams

Boxers participate in a patriotic training session at Sunchase Boxers breeder ranch in Tulsa, Okla., owned by Tracy Hendrickson. All of the dogs in the photo are related. Sam (bottom, far right) and Izzy (bottom, third from the left) are owned by Fred and Shirley Williams of Van Buren.

Most people enjoy time off with family and friends during the Fourth of July, but fireworks can be a source of anxiety and fear for the family pooch.

According to the HARTZ website, here are some ideas to keep your dog safe during the July 4 holiday:

Create a safe haven for your dog. Keep your dog inside and make a safe place for him, removing all objects that could cause harm. Make sure his go-to hiding spot is clear and accessible and don’t pull him out if he is hiding. If the fireworks are especially close to your house, take him to a friend’s house where the noise won’t be as loud. Also close all the curtains and blinds to keep out the bright light flashes and decrease the loud booms and make sure all the doors and windows are securely closed and locked. You may also want to put down some training pads in case your dog gets excited and has an accident.

Calm your dog with aromatherapy. There are many calming sprays out there to ease your dog’s stress. If his reaction is severe, talk to your vet for a prescription. Otherwise, try an over-the-counter remedy or at-home aromatherapy oil spray like lavender. Spray his coat and on a bandana or something that you can tie loosely around his neck.

Exercise your dog. Three or four hours before the celebration, take your dog for a long walk, run, to the dog park or play catch to wear him out. By releasing energy now, he’ll have less to exert during the fireworks and hopefully be less stressed.

Feed him a big meal. Feed your dog a big meal an hour or two before the celebration so he’ll feel relaxed and content.

Massage his nerves away. Have your dog lie down and gently massage his legs, shoulders, back, neck, and tips of his ears. You can even hold him during the fireworks and pet him to reduce anxiety.

Cuddle his fears away. It’s important to spend quality time with your dog after the fireworks or during if you are staying inside. This will calm him down and ensure him that everything is fine.

Provide some distractions. Try keeping your dog’s focus away from the fireworks by cuddling or playing. You can also give him a toy like a frozen treat or a rawhide to divert his attention. Try turning on the radio or the television to block out some of the holiday noises.

Make sure your dog has proper identification. Though not recommended, if you do take your dog to the fireworks make sure he is micro-chipped and wearing an ID collar in case he gets scared and bolts. Always keep your dog on a leash and keep him far away from where the fireworks are being set off.

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