Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 2:16 pm | Fair 75º


Inquisitive Canine: Fourth of July Precautions for Pooches

From fireworks to food, the holiday festivities present potential hazards for dogs

Dear Inquisitive Dog Guardians:

It’s that time of year again when Americans enjoy celebrating their country’s independence with barbecues, alcohol and explosives. As a U.S.-born pooch, I enjoy many of the customs that are part of this festive holiday, such as spending time with friends and family and being surrounded by all of the delicious food. But as an inquisitive canine, I must ask: Why the explosives? I know this observance goes back to John Adams describing the “illuminations” in the sky to celebrate Independence Day, but fireworks can be quite frightening and dangerous (especially the do-it-yourself backyard variety).

In honor of this time of celebration, my mom, a certified professional dog trainer, and I thought it would be a good idea to send out gentle reminders on how to help keep us dogs safe.

» Manage the environment: Remember, dogs are scavengers. If something is within reach (even if it means jumping up or climbing on tables to get it), it’s going to be investigated. Please keep any and all food items out of our reach. This includes closing the barbecue cover. Jumping up on a hot grill isn’t very smart, but some dogs haven’t learned that yet.

» Food items: Although I have a rock-gut stomach, many dogs don’t. Please make sure you feed us our normal diet. And ask all of the other humans to refrain from giving us snacks — no matter how much we beg. Some foods aren’t good for dogs, and they might not know it. You can always post a reminder sign for everyone to see.

» Lighter fluid, charcoal, matches and lighters: All of those items used for the barbecue are often placed in areas where dogs like to sniff around. Please be aware of where they are placed.

» Alcoholic beverages: I once sniffed a beer that dad was drinking. Yuck! I don’t go near the stuff. But again, some dogs haven’t learned. Alcohol can be poisonous to dogs, so please keep all beverage containers (except our fresh water) out of our reach.

» Candles, tiki torches, oil lamps and other decorative products: These can be fun to investigate. Unfortunately, they can cause harm if they fall on us or we try to eat them, so again, if your dog is running around the house, keep these items in a safe place or put them away.

» Fireworks: First and foremost, keep them away from us. Exposure can cause burns and other injuries. Plus, they’re very scary to most animals, including yours truly. Keep all pets inside your home, where it is safe. Sometimes the explosions scare us and we like to run away.

» ID and License: Make sure your dog (and kitties, too) are wearing a collar with a license and ID tag. In case they take off, the authorities will have a better chance of finding you.

» Stay home or have a pet sitter: Leave your dog at home. Fireworks shows are fun for all of you humans, but for many of us dogs they’re too overwhelming. If you aren’t able to stay home with them, consider hiring a professional pet sitter or have a friend hang out and comfort your pets.

» Medications: If the anxiety is too much for your dog or cat to handle, contact your veterinarian about the option of an anti-anxiety medication.

» Phone numbers: Another step you’ll want to take is having phone numbers handy. If your dog or cat ingests something they shouldn’t have, you can contact the animal poison control center 24/7. You’ll also want to know in advance where the nearest 24-hour pet emergency clinic is and the fastest way to get there.

I’m not a pooch-party-pooper. Trust me, I love a barbecue more than most humans. But whatever you end up doing this weekend, please be sure to take extra precautions to secure the safety of your beloved pets — so you can enjoy celebrating more holidays together.

For answers to your questions about dog behavior, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified pet dog trainer and dog behavior counselor. Her column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >