JULY 4TH SAFETY TIPS
By Leatrice Miller-Natola,
Certified Pet Dog Trainer
Every single Fourth of July holiday my heart breaks over the number of lost dogs flooding across my Facebook page. There are many sources available regarding how to keep your dogs safe and secure during this loud and often terrifying holiday. Here are a few tips for a safe, enjoyable holiday for you and your dog.
LEAVE THEM HOME
The #1 suggestion in all the research was simply to LEAVE YOUR DOG AT HOME. Do not take them to July 4th celebrations or fire works displays. Dogs do not enjoy crowds, heat, or loud noise. July 4th is all those things and dogs just get stressed and anxious. Please, leave them home in a safe area in your house.
Create a safety zone in your house for your dog if you are going to a celebration or having guests come to your home. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Put your dog in an escape proof, safe room or crate.
- Ensure they are comfortable.
- Play the radio or television for some background noise to dampen the sounds of fireworks.
- Close the windows to muffle sounds from outdoors.
- Dog proof the room by crawling on the floor to check what is unsafe for your dog, such as wires, or items hidden under furniture.
- Provide safe items to chew to help channel any anxiety the dog may feel while you are away or tending to your in home guests.
- Direct guests to leave the dog alone. Some dogs are social butterflies, it’s true. But watch your dog carefully for signs of stress due to noise, or too many people. Give them a break in their Safety Zone.
- Direct guests to be sure to keep the dog INSIDE the house. Many dogs get lost due to scooting out the door because guests are moving in and out. This in itself can be a good reason to put your dog in a Safety Zone.
ID TAGS/MICRO CHIP
It is wise to have both an identification tag AND a Micro chip on your dog at ALL times. Here’s why:
- The average kind person who finds your lost dog does not have a wand to read a micro chip, therefore, have clear, easy to read identification on your dog so they can call you immediately upon finding your dog.
- The Micro chip is in the event that your dog ends up in an animal shelter. Shelters have the wands to read the micro chip, and in many cases, identification tags and collars can get lost by the time they end up in a shelter.
- Make sure your information for your dogs’ micro chip is up to date so you can be contacted if your dog is lost.
WALKING WITH YOUR DOG
For many people, the fireworks begin several days or even a week BEFORE July 4th, and often continue throughout the summer. Be prepared. Know who uses fireworks in your neighborhood and when they tend to set them off. Be sure to avoid those locations and times so your dog does not panic while out walking with you. It is very hard to maintain control of a panicked dog no matter what size they are as they suddenly turn into slippery bars of soap that can squeeze out of anything and run for miles!
- Keep your dog home if walking is not their only way to get outside to eliminate.
- If you must walk your dog, be sure all walking equipment is in good working condition and PROPERLY FITTED! Most people keep the collars on their dogs way too loose and they can EASILY slip them. A properly fitted collar will not slide over your dogs head when they try to back out of it and you should be able to fit one two fingers under the collar (depends on how larger or small your fingers are). Martingale collars are one example of collars that, when fitted properly, are nearly impossible for a dog to slip out of and they loosen when pressure is released. Most pet supply stores carry them and they are very reasonably priced.
- Use a flat leash rather then a Flexi lead. It is much easier to maintain control of a dog that is close to you than it is to regain control of a dog who is 15’ away. Also, the handles on the Flexi lead can be easily jerked out of your hand when a dog panics and runs to get away from the source of their fear.
- Be sure all fencing is 100% secure. Check for spots in your fence your dog could squeeze through. Seal those areas. Dogs will hurt themselves to get away from something that scares them badly enough.
- Only put your dog outside when fireworks are least likely to happen.
- Electronic fencing is not secure for a panicked dog.
- Some suggest leashing AND fencing to secure the dog to keep them safe.
Lastly, have a fun and safe holiday with your furry friends!
Good leaders communicate clearly and consistently Clear communication is essential in training your dog. It is one of the reasons certified professional dog
training is so invaluable.
You will learn to communicate in a clear consistent manner so your dog can
understand what you want from her. If you do not bother to learn a language you can both share, then its like you being dropped in the middle of a foreign country with NOTHING at all to help you communicate with the
people you encounter.
How do you find a bathroom? How do you find food? How do you find someone to care about you and your needs? Overwhelming! And that is where your over excited, over stimulated dog spends most of her life: just not understanding what you want and you not understanding that she
desperately wants to communicate with you but doesn’t know the language.
What dogs DO understand is body language. That is how they communicate, with some vocalizations included. A good dog training coach
with help you develop consistent clear verbal and visual hand cues to help you and your dog communicate.
The visual hand cue is your dog’s bridge to understanding what your words and body language are trying to say to her.
Good leaders provide safe boundaries and rules
Leadership = the loving art of showing a dog how to be successful, NOT the art of letting a dog do whatever she wants.
Be proactive rather than permissive. Proactively set your dog up to be happy and successful where ever she is and whatever she is doing. Permissiveness results in dogs that are set up for failure do to the lack of active leadership from their humans. They can end up feeling frustrated and anxious everywhere they go.
When you became a dog guardian, you became obligated to have reasonable expectations for you dog. When you find yourself in a situation in which your dog is not performing as you hoped, ask yourself if your expectations for her are suitable for the situation, age, and breed of your dog.
Reasonable limits and boundaries must be designed to encourage and support good manners, good impulse control, calm, and an easy going attitude in the home and in public. In other words, avoid places, and situations your dog isn’t good at yet.
Experience success, then, over time, slowly and carefully push the boundaries in a calm, confident manner. Your dog wants you to lead her.
She doesn’t know that chewing the Christmas tree lights cord is dangerous. She doesn’t know that counter surfing can lead to her pulling down food stuff that can burn her.
She doesn’t know she shouldn’t eat her new bed because it could result in thousands of dollars in vet bills for you.
She doesn’t know that chasing a rabbit across the street can get her killed. She doesn’t know that barking at other dogs when she is walking causes you embarrassment.
She doesn’t know her muddy paws just ruined your brand new slacks for work.
DON’T YELL! It won’t help. She might look sad for a few moments. Her look is actually submissive behavior resulting from your anger. She has no idea WHY you are mad. So stop it. She isn’t learning.
Instead, YOU need to learn to train her properly so she knows jumping can only happen when YOU invite her to do it. She can join you on the couch when you invite her rather than having her rampage through the house like a
torpedo, leaping onto the couch and repelling off the people sitting there causing injury to those unlucky enough to find themselves in the path of hurricane dog!
Keeping your dog safe may mean that you need to protect her from herself, as well as from you. Sometimes our best intentions are NOT what is best for our dog. For instance, many people want to let their dogs off leash without the proper training to ensure a solid recall (Come).
Too often, it ends in disaster. The intention is good. However, it’s a really bad, very unsafe idea. What your dog doesn’t know can, in fact, kill her. It is your
job as her guardian to make sure she is safe everywhere she goes whether at home or in public.
NO EXCUSES! Keep her safe. Keeping her safe means you are willing to use a crate not as a punishment place, but rather as a time out place where she can get calm, rest, relax, and be safe when you aren’t home, or the home environment is just too much for her at the moment.
If you’re having trouble, either you are doing it wrong or your dog may have a history of crate abuse. Other solutions are available. Leashes are a necessity if
you have a dog.
If your dog is struggling on leash, go learn how to get better at teaching her how to walk nicely on a leash. Leashes and crate/containment are simply fundamental to the safety of your dog. Once again, no excuses. The point here is simply that it is your obligation upon adopting your dog that you keep her
safe. There are lots of ways that can be achieved.
Again, being happy and fun when training a dog to walk nicely or to go joyfully into a crate is the way to go!
Another aspect of providing structure for your dog involves problem solving for your dog. You are the solution to every problem your dog encounters. It is your job to be the solution so your dog never has to solve his own concerns, fear or anxiety. When dogs try to resolve their own concerns, it can result in very bad consequences for everyone involved.
The way to do that is to ALWAYS set your dog up to be successful! For
instance, I have a dog who is loosing his hearing. We live in the country. My husband takes the dog out off leash. The dog gets just a little too far away.
Result: husband yelling at the dog to come. The dog is mostly DEAF! However, even though he is mostly deaf, he can feel the energy my husband is sending his way and he just won’t come. Dogs wait until you calm down. I see this over and over again in the way my clients handle their dogs. Just stop yelling. Instead, go get the dog and realize he simply can’t do off leash anymore.
Considering he is 12 years old and a very large breed, that’s ok. In human terms, he’s about 93! Grandpa Buzz needs a leash! Simple and now everyone is happy and actually the dog FEELS better because he knows what is expected.
ALL DOGS WANT TO FEEL SAFE! Physically safe and emotionally safe….yes, dogs need emotional safety too! So it might mean that at least for right now, your dog is not a candidate for off leash activities. Just use a long leash.
Done. He will still have fun while giving you the opportunity to train a really awesome, “Come!”
Always think about what you want to do with your dog before doing it. Then plan it to ensure the dog experiences SUCCESS!
Confident, calm leaders solve problems in a positive, productive and safe way
Giving your dog choices is great when the dog is in a situation where those choices are not going to get him in trouble.
Otherwise, take charge and guide your dog through the situation with as much patience, joy and fun that you can muster!
- Train your dog!
Find a good, certified trainer and yes, pay actual money to train your dog. Again, you are investing in your dog. Being a dog guardian means you must INVEST in that dog in ALL the same ways that you invest in all your other relationships. Like any other family member you must build a healthy relationship with your dog by investing the time and money to educate and love them.
Otherwise, you and your dog are set up to fail. Ignorance is not an excuse to have an ill mannered, overexcited, lunatic of a dog. There are excellent options to help you. Get the help. Stop making excuses.
- Play: make training and interactions with your dog FUN! Check out Absolute Dogs! They are amazing and tons of fun!
- Check out this video from Absolute Dogs about impulse control and how to calm that dog down!
- Think BANK: Invest time in your dog and he will totally put all his money on YOU!
- Distractions cease to have an attraction for the dog if they are INVESTED in you and the fun they are guaranteed to have just by following you.
Article regarding studies about negative coaching:
Angry Coaches Beware: Athletes respond poorly to negative feedback,
By ALEX HUTCHINSON
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 28, 2012
UPDATED MARCH 26, 2017
Victoria Stillwell, Positively: Where You Lead, I will Follow, by Debby McMullen
Absolute Dogs Dog Training
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