When planning for the Fourth of July holiday, don't forget about the family dog. Although fireworks and fun may be on the menu, what you find enjoyable can be nothing short of terrifying for your dog.
When dogs become frightened, often their first instinct is to flee. Normally contained securely in the back yard, a terrified dog might jump over, dig under or even chew through the fence to get away.
To keep your dog safe during the holiday, do your best to isolate him from loud noises and fireworks. Even if you remain at home, consider boarding your dog at a kennel. Boarding facilities provide a quiet and secure environment for your dog.
If you choose to keep your dog at home, plan to bring him inside. Place him in a crate and keep him in a room farthest from any holiday activities. Keep the room dark and turn on a fan, radio or television to provide background noise. Before crating your dog, exercise him thoroughly. A tired dog will be much more likely to sleep while crated.
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You may also choose to place something of interest in the crate. There are many toys on the market that have one or more "ports," where goodies can be hidden. A bit of peanut butter, some cream cheese or some jerky pieces stuffed into these ports can keep dog tantalized by the treat instead of the noises outside.
If needing to contain your dog for most of the day, don't forget to check on him and to take him out during quiet periods to potty and offer water. This is a time to remain calm and quiet -- your dog may look to you for clues as to how to react to the strange situation he's in. If he's going to emulate your behavior, show him how calm and relaxed you are under the circumstances. Take a few minutes to stroke your dog or give him a soothing belly rub before placing him securely in his crate again.
With a bit of planning, you can make sure your beloved dog is safe and protected while you enjoy your holiday celebration.
Lisa Moore's pet-behavior column appears once a month on the Weekly Pet Page. Write to her in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.
BOARDING YOUR PET
If you decide to board your dog at a kennel, here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau for selecting one:
* Seek kennel recommendations from friends, neighbors, a veterinarian or local animal shelters.
* Visit the facility. Note the friendliness of staff members and how they interact with the other boarding pets. Inquire about the staff's background and experience. Check for cleanliness and offensive odors at the facility, and note the overall safety of the kennel and cages.
* Make certain the kennel is properly licensed with the state. Check out the kennel with your local Better Business Bureau. Owners can learn if a kennel has a reputation for customer satisfaction and treating animals well.
* Discuss the feeding schedule, water accessibility, frequency of exercise and escape-proof features at the facility.
* Ask if the kennel requires that all entering pets have proof of immunization, and what are its policies regarding flea and tick control.
* Learn the drop-off and pickup hours.
* Get a clear understanding of the kennel's billing policy.
* Finally, ask what happens in case of a medical emergency or other unexpected situations.