Some people get really excited about the fourth of July celebrations. I am all for celebrating the birth of our country, but do we have to do it with so many fireworks?! Some hardcore enthusiasts may even start their disruptive explosions the weekend before! If you are anything like me, you dread this upcoming holiday as much as—or more than—your dog. More dogs run away on the fourth of July than any other day of the year. I can’t blame them. Instead of staying up to party until one in the morning, I am that woman yelling, “Knock it off!” to my neighbors who are lighting off fireworks all night long. Here are some tips to minimize dog anxiety this 4th of July.

Celebrate Early

Fourth of July celebrations happen all day long, and fortunately, the majority of fireworks aren’t set off until after dark. If you celebrate early, you can be patriotic while still getting home to comfort your dog through the hours that matter most. Find a daytime picnic to attend. You most likely know someone who is having a BBQ—just come early and plan to leave before dark. You won’t feel left out, and neither will your furry friend.

If You Can’t Stay Home

If staying home is not an option, you can take some steps to help your canine feel more comfortable. My first recommendation is a supplement called Calm, formulated to promote calmness and relaxation in dogs. It’s available as a tasty tablet or a powder you can mix into food. I give it to my dogs every fourth of July, and whenever they experience stress, like during travel, when going to the vet, or during loud thunderstorms.
You can also put your dog into a crate or a room that is furthest from the street (or furthest from those neighbors you know will be lighting off fireworks). The further you can get your sweet animal from the noise, the better. Put their favorite toys in the room, and give them plenty of love before you leave.

Hire a Pet Sitter

If leaving your dog home alone is a no-go, consider hiring a pet sitter. You’ll pay a premium price for the fourth of July (so book early!), but your dog’s peace of mind may be worth the expense. I recommend hiring the same pet sitter for a few sessions before the fourth so your dog gets acquainted with the sitter before the big day. Adding a stranger to the mix with no warm-up would just backfire, unless they come a couple hours in advance to get to know your furry pal.

Stay Close Throughout the Night

If your dog doesn’t already sleep in your room at night, make an exception on the 4th of July. (And if your dog doesn’t usually sleep in your bed, you may want to make an exception for that too, depending on his anxiety level.) Petting your dog and keeping her close while using your voice to sooth her nerves will usually help her feel less tense. Just knowing that you’re there can make all the difference.
Fourth of July fireworks are going to be an annual event whether we like it or not. So follow my advice to help your best friend feel safe this holiday, and those to come.