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Surviving the 4th of July With Dogs

Hello, today I wanted to share with you my routine for surviving the 4th of July with dogs. (Also works for surviving New Year’s Eve fireworks with dogs.)

My “brave” weimaraner Remy is not afraid of gunshots when he’s running around in a field sniffing.

However, when he’s in the house and hears fireworks or thunder (or even a strong wind!), he tail tucks it and hides in my office.

So I thought I’d share our 4th of July routine in case it will help give you some ideas for your own dog or someone you know (please share this article).

*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.

Surviving the Fourth of July with dogs

1. Take your dog for a long walk the morning of July 4th.

The morning of July 4th, Remy and I will head out early in the morning for at least a 45 minute walk, ideally 60 or 90 minutes.

I’ll put him in his Mighty Paw harness and use my long 50 ft check cord and just walk along the quiet roads and fields near our home. I’ll let him sniff and run and just be a dog.

Sarah Stremming from Cognitive Canine uses the term “decompression walks” and I love this!

She simply describes taking a long walk in nature several times a week to allow the dog to move freely, sniff, run and be a dog.

Of course, a long walk will not magically remove all of your dog’s extra energy or remove her anxiety around fireworks. But, the extra long walk and time to decompress will help her deal with the stress of fireworks much easier.

A true “decompression walk” should be done either off leash or on a long leash with a harness to allow the most free movement as possible.

Obviously since we’re dealing with potential fireworks, I recommend you keep your dog leashed for safety. Way too many dogs get lost over the 4th of July.

Lost dogs July 4th

Some dogs bolt and flee when they’re scared.

I’ve had my dog bolt in fear before and when he’s truly scared it’s like he doesn’t even know where he’s running off to.

So be aware of that possibility.

Use the collar or harness that you’re used to so you can guarantee your dog won’t slip out and bolt if he gets scared.

Get your walk in early in the morning before fireworks start. Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags on a collar or harness that will NOT slip off. Make sure his microchip info is up to date.

2. Prepare a “safe room” for your dog during fireworks.

We have an AC unit in our bedroom, making that room very cool with a lot of white noise. That is where I’ll set up Remy’s kennel with a comfy dog bed and blanket. I’ll start the AC early, around 4pm to get that room nice and cool.

But keep in mind that your dog gets to decide which room is the “safest.” He is the one who is scared, not you.

So, if you think your dog should be in your bedroom during fireworks but he wants to hide in the basement or under a desk or in a bathroom, then I would let him choose his own “safe place.”

Remy usually prefers to run downstairs to my office when he gets scared. So, even though I’m going to try to get him to hang out in our bedroom, my office will be the backup “safe room” if that’s what Remy prefers.

3. Prepare frozen Kongs or other special chews for your dog to have during fireworks.

Remy loves rubber Kong toys stuffed with mashed-up bananas and peanut butter. I’ll have two of those frozen and ready to go!

Other options for your dog could be Yak cheese dog chews, bully sicks or puzzle toys like the Kong Wobbler or a snuffle mat.

You might even buy your dog a brand new toy special for the 4th of July! Maybe a new squeaky toy or a plush toy to rip up, as long as he’s not going to consume it!

4th of July with dogs

4. Anti-anxiety medication for dogs during fireworks.

I used to think anti-anxiety medication should be used as a last resort for fearful dogs.

That was before I had a fearful dog in my family.

Last year I gave Remy a strong dose of Trazodone, a medication used to decrease anxiety in dogs.

It worked very well, and I recommend you go that route if it is an option for your dog. If not, no worries. Just ask your vet about it for next year.

Ideally, you would want to try giving the medication a couple of times before the 4th of July anyway to get the dosing right.

For example, Remy took Trazodone for anxiety before going in to his vet visits. That helped me figure out how much he needed.

Does Trazodone work for dogs during fireworks?

A high dose of Trazodone does work for my dog during fireworks. Trazodone makes Remy very sleepy and he just slept in his kennel during fireworks last year.

This year, I’m going to use Trazodone again but I think I’ll give him a slightly lighter dose because it really knocked him out last year!

I’ll give this around 5pm or so before the fireworks really get going in our area. I’ll take him out for a potty break at this time, too.

If your dog does not have or need a prescription medication for anxiety, you can try some over the counter options such as:

5. During the actual fireworks, try to be home with your dog, if possible.

I realize we all have plans for the 4th of July but if you are able to stay home with your dog, that would be a nice thing to do.

If you can’t, then doing all of the above steps should hopefully help your dog settle in OK while you’re gone.

The fireworks are really crazy here from about 7 pm to midnight, so that’s when Remy will hunker down in his kennel in our bedroom with his Kongs.

I might hang out in there watching TV with him or I might not. But I plan to be at home this year.

At some point, I’ll try to get him outside for one last potty break before bed whenever the fireworks don’t seem too crazy. But they can go on into the early morning around here.

That’s about it!

Monday morning July 5th, we’ll go out for another long decompression walk.

Done! We survived the 4th!

Let me know if you have anything in your 4th of July routine that might help other dogs!

-Lindsay & Remy

*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.

Related articles:

Dogs with extreme fireworks anxiety

Does affection reinforce a dog’s fears?

Thundershirt reviews pros and cons

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.


Thursday 1st of July 2021

I bought the Thundershirt in the hope that it would relieve the fear and anxiety that our Terrier Mix goes through, but it was totally useless.... In fact I think it made it worse. I think being somewhat confined by the wrap seemed to make him hunt harder for a safe place.I have been giving him Children's Benadryl, but even that is not 100%. This year I will have Youtube Dog Music on for him and the Air Conditioner on early. The Stupid here knows no "Clock".

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 1st of July 2021

I hope the music and the AC help! I should put some music on for my dog too.

Deborah Maturi

Thursday 1st of July 2021

WOW Great information!! Thank you!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 1st of July 2021

You're welcome!