Tips for a Dog's Safest & Happiest 4th of July Ever

Written by: Kizz Robinson, lead trainer at PumpkinPups Dog Training and runs her own training business, 2B Dog Training.

What one day of the year are the most dogs lost in the US? If you guessed the 4th of July, you're right! 


My dog, Ed, hasn't shown any signs of fear around fireworks in the past but this year, as people in my neighborhood have been experimenting with their fiery purchases, he's seemed more on edge so I'm making plans for a safe and happy Independence Day. Some of our clients' dogs are so young that they haven't experienced fireworks season before. Other clients already know how their dogs will react.


Wherever your dog is on the spectrum of worry - from worry-free to panic - it's a good idea to set yourself up for success. Here are some tips for keeping things calm.


1. Check the fit of your dog's collar and harness. For the collar gently tug on it to be sure that if it can't slip over your dog's head by accident. Remember to feed your dog for tolerating that tugging! 

For the harness check to see if it seems loose under the arms and across the chest. Wiggly dogs can bend a a leg and sneak out of a harness if they're panicked. We want the harness to fit firmly but not uncomfortably.


2. Double up on safety by attaching your dog's collar to their harness when you go out. You can use a lightweight carabiner or a cat collar looped through the D ring of your dog's collar and the front clip of their harness. This way, whether your leash is clipped to collar or harness, if your dog squeaks out of one piece of equipment you'll still be attached to them.


3. Start using calming aids now. Get some Adaptil spray, some treats with L-theanine in them, download Through A Dog's Ear music and start using them now so your dog feels relaxed before the surprises of 4th of July celebrations. 


4. It's not too late to ask your vet about medication. If you already know that your dog is anxious at this time of year it's a good idea to ask your vet about medication. There are several good options that your vet can fill you in on. If you're soliciting advice from friends and family please be careful. Acepromazine is a medication that used to be used for fears of loud sounds and isn't any more. Here's an article outlining why that change was made.


5. Make a safe room. Whether your dog has never experienced fireworks or if they're old hands at it they all deserve a safe space to take a break. At my house I close off the living room, draw the shades, turn on all the fans to cover the noise, turn the TV up, and we snuggle together on the couch from about 8p on July 4th until the morning of July 5th. 

If your dog has a safe space that they tend to retreat to in times of trouble like a crate, a closet, or the bathtub make sure that space is extra comfy and easily accessible. 


6. Don't go out into the thick of things. Fireworks are best experienced after dark. Make a plan to walk your dog before full dark and to get up a bit earlier the following morning to account for your dog's early walk the night before.


7. Bring on the puzzle toys and chews! If your dog has plenty of irresistibly delicious food puzzles to work on during the excitement they're more likely to feel better about it. 


8. Please comfort your dog. Petting, soothing, and comforting your dog will not reinforce their fear. When fireworks or thunderstorms surprise me petting my dog helps me to calm down. The reverse is also true. For many dogs being close to us and being calmly pet is a big help.


Have a wonderful holiday!

Kizz Robinson is a lead trainer at PumpkinPups Dog Training and runs her own training business, 2B Dog Training. Her dog, Eddie, is 10 and looks forward to snuggling all night long on July 4th.


Elizabeth H. Robinson, CPDT-KA

2B Dog Training

(917) 364 7644

Summer Tips for a happier healthier dog.

Skin Care and the Sun
Dogs are subject to getting sunburns just like humans, dogs with white coats or very thin coats and pink skin are at greater risk.

DVM360, a great site for information about pet behavior and health, recommends using a fragrance free, non-staining, UVA and UVB barrier sunscreen, or one made especially for pets. Creams may be easier to apply than sprays especially to faces!

Viv saw a mostly black pup the other day with the most adorable white patch of hair on the top of his snout.  That was the perfect spot for a bad sunburn if that pup goes to the beach or spends significant time in the sun.

Out & About with Dogs
This wonderful warmer weather and sunshine means more people and dogs are hitting the pavement, parks and beaches. For dogs who prefer space and quiet this can be super stressful.  Think twice about taking your pup to the park for a picnic or to the kids' baseball or soccer game.

If your dog is a social butterfly then take them along and be sure to bring a bowl and fresh water if you won’t be near a water fountain.

For the wallflowers and the sound sensitive dogs (think skateboarders) staying home with a frozen kong and some soft music might be their idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon. Not everything we will enjoy means our pup will enjoy it too.

Allergy Season is Here
Spring brings an explosion of new plant growth and budding and flowering trees.  Some dogs suffer from hay fever just as we humans do.

Does your dog seem to be experiencing skin irritations or upper respiratory problems all of a sudden?  Check with your vet about how to help your pup get through this season with less discomfort. 

Important note: Dogs cannot take Pseudophedrine which is a component of many human allergy medicines. So if your vet recommends an over-the-counter remedy be sure to read the label carefully and get the exact medicine your vet prescribed. 

Puppies & Parasites

Puppies and Parasites

No matter where your new puppy comes from, the likelihood that your puppy is carrying one or more parasites is close to 100%.  Puppies contract these parasites in-utero from their mothers and then, even if treated, they may be re-infected in the environments in which they are kept before they come to you. For this reason we strongly recommend that you bring a poop sample to your vet to be analyzed within a few days of your puppy's arrival in your home. 

We also recommend that puppies be examined by a veterinarian within their first week with you. This visit will allow the vet to check eyes, ears, coat, general body condition, and listen to the lungs and heart of your pup.  We of course expect our puppies to come to us in good health, but this is not always the case.  Early intervention on ear infections, possible chest colds and parasites will insure that your puppy is in good health and therefore training and socialization can proceed without delay.

Also, no vaccinations on the first visit please, just lots of treats!  A good experience on that first visit will help set your puppy on the path toward enjoying going to the vet.  Building a positive relationship with vet for the rest of your pup's life is well worth the expense of a second visit for shots. 

Travel Smart with your Dog this Season!

Tips from our December newsletter

Viviane Arzoumanian & Rachel C Maso

Does your dog start to pace the moment the suitcases come out? 
It’s likely that your dog associates luggage with being left behind. To change your pup’s mind before your next trip, start taking out your luggage before walks, or when you are going to feed your dog a meal, or even before a playing a game of fetch. By linking these actions, your dog will start to think, “Yay, the bag’s out so something flipping awesome is about to happen!” You’re only risk is creating a pup who is a bit too happy when you are getting ready to go on a trip!

Does your dog know when you're feeling stressed?
Prepare yourself for packing by playing some mellow music, making a cup of tea or having a glass of wine. If you’re relaxed about the process, it’s likely your dog will be more relaxed too. If your pup is still on edge, give him/her a new bone or chew toy to keep occupied and from being underfoot.  

Make sure your dog is really invited
Having your pup by your side can give you some much needed tension relief. Dogs are the best at defusing awkward moments! That is if your family members are really comfortable with you bringing him/her along. Yes, we should all be dog people, and your pup can turn anyone around, but if you hear any hesitation from your host, think twice about bringing your pup along. Make sure you know who else will be joining in the celebrations. No one needs the surprise of their pup stepping on a toddler or knocking over their Great Aunt Mildred. Find out what other animals might be in the home and that they are truly dog friendly. Your Uncle Bob’s cat might not appreciate having another animal in her house! 

How to handle long wait times on the road
Plan ahead, holiday traffic can only be made worse by a dog pacing and whining in the backseat. Give your pup a big run before you go. An exercised dog will be a more relaxed dog. If you are driving a long distance with your pup, research a few dog friendly pit stops along the way so your pup gets some nice bathroom breaks. If your dog doesn’t get car sick, bring water, treats and chews to keep him/her busy, otherwise make sure to bring an exciting new toy or two. If your pup gets car sick, talk to your vet about some anti nausea medication! 

Don't forget your training tools
Depending on the age and activity level of your dog, bring along a cheap pressure gate, a couple of water bowls, lots of treats, a long line (15-50 foot leash), a comfy dog bed (and crate if you use one) and of course enough food for all of your pup’s meals. 

Set your pup up for success
When you arrive, survey the area to make sure it is dog safe. Those who have never had a dog before are likely to know very little about dog proofing. Keep an eye out for bowls of snacks left on the coffee table (especially chocolate), a Christmas tree with low hanging ornaments or a tree stand with water exposed (this water can make dogs sick), kids toys lying about and an open kitchen with pies cooling on the counter. 

If there is a tree, make sure the stand is covered. Place full water bowls in a couple out of the way locations, to avoid their being knocked over, so your pup has plenty of healthy drinking options. Remove all low hanging “fruit” around the home and use your pressure gate, or put your pup on a leash to keep your pup from being underfoot in the kitchen. Place you pup’s bed and toys somewhere out of the way so s/he can choose to leave the party whenever s/he needs a break.

Time to relax
Be prepared for someone to fall for those puppy dog eyes and feed your pup from the table. Don’t worry, all of your pup’s good manners aren’t going to go out the window in a couple of days. Just make sure that everyone knows what items are safe for dogs to eat and which are not. If you are the culprit, don’t let your pup lick your plate or climb in the dishwasher– that might fly at home, but it’s likely to offend the sensibilities of your family members! If it’s all getting to be too much, remember, your dog is a great excuse to remove yourself for some fresh air. Take your pup for a walk and bring along that long line so that you both can work off some energy, not to mention calories! 

A homemade gift everyone can enjoy!
Remember all those treats and presents you brought along? Well no need to buy your pup a gift this year. Take used cardboard boxes and wrapping paper to make an awesome puzzle toy for your pup. Wrap a few treats into the crumpled paper and place in a box, and then let your pup have at it! This trick will keep your pup focused, well behaved, and will keep the whole family entertained!