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July 4th Fireworks and Keeping Pets Safe

June 29, 2009 3 min read

July 4th Fireworks: An Explosive Combo for Owners and Dogs

Dog Trainer Robert Cabral’s Has 10 Tips on How to Keep Your Pet Calm & Safe During the Holiday

Fireworks are the most thrilling aspect of the Fourth of July for people while at the same time terrifying dogs.  The danger signal fireworks send to dogs — and the reaction it stimulates — can be lethal. Nationwide, animal control services cite a 30 percent increase in lost dogs reported between July 4th - 6th and an increase in chained dogs left outside that have inadvertently strangled themselves in reaction to loud fireworks.

“Loud sounds are a trigger for dogs to run or panic,” says Robert Cabral, a Malibu-based dog trainer / behaviorist known for dog training and for national nonprofit organization Bound Angels.

Other reactions, Cabral adds, include dangerous stress levels and out-of-control panting. The reality is that fireworks are part of the holiday celebration so it is incumbent for dog owners to know how to prepare and deal effectively with the situation.

Here are Cabral’s 10 Tips for how to help your dog cope with Fourth of July Celebrations:

  1. Do not leave your dog alone, especially outside during fireworks displays. If you absolutely must leave your dog, leave a TV or radio playing..
  2. Do not coddle or hug your dog if your dog becomes scared or distressed – this tends to make dogs think that their actions are justified.  Be strong, talk in a normal tone and remain indifferent to the noise.
  3. Do find an alternative to the noise, be it playing an instrument, listening to a news program or playing an entertaining DVD.  This can serve as a positive distraction for your dog.
  4. Do keep all windows and doors closed to keep the sound out.
  5. Do not take your dog for a walk during fireworks celebrations.
  6. Do feed your dog long before the time for fireworks.
  7. Do give your dog a special toy to play with during fireworks.
  8. Do make sure your dog keeps a normal schedule the day of the fireworks.
  9. Do plan to keep your dog away from strange dogs or dogs that may excite him during the fireworks.
  10. Do keep your dog away from unfamiliar people before and during the fireworks.

With proper planning, says Cabral, the Fourth of July can be a safe and fun holiday for pets and their owners.  For more information, please visit

About Robert Cabral

Robert Cabral is a professional dog behaviorist and trainer with a background in Japanese Martial Arts.  He applies many of those principles in his Black Belt Dog Training, a Zen-like approach to transform dogs with difficult behavior patterns.  In addition, his passion is the nonprofit he founded called Bound Angels ( and, which is dedicated to giving a voice to animals, in particular those living in our nation’s shelters at risk of being killed: some for bad behavior, some just because they are no longer wanted.  Robert has worked with countless shelter dogs, and as a result of his work, these animals have found loving homes.  He also serves on the advisory board for K9 Connection in Los Angeles where he tests their dogs and speaks to at-risk teens and those in foster care about animal behavior.