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Pooch Patriotism Means Celebrate Smart
updated: Jun 30, 2012, 9:15 AM

Hey there, Inquisitive Pet Parents -

The 4th of July is almost here. As an American-born inquisitive canine, I've learned that this is the time of year we celebrate our country's independence with BBQs, alcohol, and explosives. I enjoy many of the customs that are part of this festive holiday, includ-ing spending time with my folks and canine pals, and being around all the delicious food - especially the latter. I wonder though, "Why the explosives?" I know it's tradition, but allow me to point out that for us non-human animals fireworks can be quite frightening not to mention dangerous (especially the do-it-yourself backyard variety).

In honor of this time of celebration, I thought it'd be a good idea to share a few remind-ers on how you can help keep us dogs-and other pets-out of harm's way.

Here are the tenets of my mutt model for furry-friend fun on the 4th of July:

Keep fireworks away from us, and us away from them! The noises they make are very scary to most animals, including yours truly, plus they can cause burns and other inju-ries.

Keep all pets inside your home where it is safe. Sometimes the explosions-even if they're far away-- scare us and we run away in hopes of escaping.

ID, license, and microchip: Make sure your dogs (and kitties too) are wearing a collar with a license and an ID tag. An under-the-skin microchip, programmed with up-to-date information, is a good investment, too, if your pet high-tails it outta there, the authorities will have a better chance of finding you.

Stay home or have a pet sitter: Leave your dog at home, or wherever they're least stressed! Fireworks shows are fun for humans, but for many of us dogs they're too overwhelming. If you aren't able to stay home with your pets, consider hiring a profes-sional pet sitter, or have a friend come over to hang out and comfort them. Or, if you have a friend or family member who can keep an eye on your inquisitive canine, arrange a play-date elsewhere--just as long as your pet will be happy.

Medications: If the anxiety is too much for your dog or cat, contact your veterinarian about providing an anti-anxiety medication in order to make the holiday more tolerable.

Manage your environment: Remember, dogs by nature are scavengers. If something is within reach, it's going to be investigated, and that applies especially to food! Please keep any and all food items out of our reach-and remember that we're not opposed to be jumping up on a table or barging through a half-open door if something smells particu-larly tempting. Remember to close the barbeque cover, too. Jumping up on a hot grill isn't very smart, but some dogs haven't learned that yet. I once jumped into a planter, leaped from there onto a barstool, and then onto a table. Then I dove into the humus. My folks were shocked, because I'd never done that before. Guess the moment and motivation were just too good to resist.

Food items: Although I have a cast-iron stomach, many dogs do not. Please make sure you feed us our normal diet, and ask all of the other humans to refrain from giving us snackies--no matter how much we work the room. I know that some of us can really pull off an Academy Award worthy performance, but some foods aren't good for us, and sometimes humans don't know it. You can also post a "Please don't feed the dog" re-minder sign in plain view.

Lighter fluid, charcoal, matches, and lighters: These items, used for the barbeque, are often placed in areas where us dogs like to sniff around. Please be aware of their loca-tion, and keep us away from them. Sometimes, they're just too tempting.

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

Candles, tiki torches, oil lamps, and other decorative products: Items like these can be fun to investigate. Unfortunately, they can cause harm if they fall on us or if we try to eat them. If your dog is running around the house, keep these items safely secured or out of reach.

Another step you'll want to take is having phone numbers handy. If your dog or cat in-gests something they shouldn't have, you can contact the animal poison control center 24/7. You'll also want to know in advance the location of the nearest 24-hour pet emer-gency clinic, and the fastest route to get there.

I'm not a pooch-party-pooper. Trust me, I love a barbeque more than most humans. But whatever you end up doing this holiday, please be sure to take extra precautions to as-sure the safety of the humans and the non-human animals in your life, so you can enjoy celebrating many more pawties together.

Poncho Mayer is a 10-pound inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human and ca-nine behavior. He and his mom work together running the family business, providing dog-training services to other inquisitive canines and their humans. For additional train-ing and behavior tips, subscribe to their blog.

The Inquisitive Canine

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