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4th of July 'ruff' on the dog

But it doesn't have to be!

By Dana StewartPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - June 2023
Dall E

As the end of June approaches, a lot of pet owners have a looming concern. It’s almost July and that means one thing, Independence Day celebrations. Whether you're chilling in the pool or camped out in the shade, everybody does something to relax on the 4th of July. The celebrations include grilled hot dogs with all the fixins, Grandma’s notorious potato salad, baked beans. An endless buffet. Time to feast and enjoy some time with friends and family. It's all fun and games until the sun sets – and the fireworks begin. And your dog has a panic attack.

Author's half eaten loaded Hot Dog - 4th of July 2022

If you’re a pet owner, you know what the exploding noises can do to your pet. Once the anxiety and panic take hold, it is a helpless feeling to see your best friend in such distress. My dog Louie hated fireworks. He was a social dog. Very social, never met a stranger. His tail wagged constantly. He loved people and car rides. The definition of a happy go lucky pup. Until fireworks started. The explosions gave him such PTSD that he would retreat to the bathroom and hide behind the toilet. For hours. I’d turn the volume of the TV as loud as it could go, trying to drown out the noise. That helped. But it got me thinking about another possible, non-pharmaceutical solution.

My number one tip, what helped Louie the most – the thing that I’ve done for years – is start watching western movies. Right now is the perfect time to start. The 4th of July is a few days away. Pick a good shoot ’em up western, too – a movie (or TV show) with lots of gun fire. Let your dog snuggle with you on the sofa. The random sounds of gunfire resemble the exploding fireworks. Get your dog acclimated to the noise now. Hopefully when the fireworks begin, it won’t seem like you’re under ‘attack.’

Your dog will still respond to the fireworks noise, but I noticed a discernable difference in my dog Louie, all due to watching a western movie several nights before the fireworks started.

My favorite pick was The 1995 version of The Quick and the Dead. This movie played on loop for days before the 4th of July. This version is a remake and features Sharon Stone (with an axe to grind) Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and a young Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s less than two hours long, has a good plot and a female gun slinger (Stone). Not your average western.

Some other great western movies are:

High Noon, 1952- A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at "high noon" when the gang leader, an outlaw he "sent up" years ago, arrives on the noon train. Starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly.

Unforgiven, 1992 -Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner Ned Logan and a young man, The "Schofield Kid." This one has a powerhouse cast including Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris.

A Fistful of Dollars, 1964 - A spaghetti western (idea from Kendall Defoe) starring Clint Eastwood - A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge. One of my favorites!


If at all possible, move pets INSIDE for the night, even if your dog lives outside. Fireworks are so disruptive to the dog’s psyche, the combination of noise and flashes of light can make the calmest dogs BOLT. More dogs run off over the 4th of July than any other holiday.

PUT an Identification collar on your dog. Just in case.

Give your dog a ‘safe space.’ Some dogs might cope better if they're in a small room by themself, others might cling to you and want to sit in your lap. Keep the water bowl filled. And a soft blanket close by.

Try the Thunder shirt. The concept is similar to swaddling for babies. It’s made of cotton material and attaches with built in Velcro, so it’s easy to put on your dog. You can purchase these at any pet supply store and some big box retailers.

Ask your vet for medication. Some medicines work really well, others do not. There are possible complications from the drug side effects, so talk to your veterinarian. The medicine is not expensive.

Curtains and mini blinds should be closed. Block out the flashes of light outside that precursor the big BOOMS.

By Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Until silent firecrackers become a thing, enjoy the Great American western movies to help your best friend enjoy their holiday too.

Here’s to everyone having a safe, happy, stress-free Independence Day.

Content previously published on author's blog.

healthhow todog

About the Creator

Dana Stewart

Soup lover proudly owned by fluffy little lap dogs. Likes: sunsets, chocolate, witty replies, and good hair days. Dislikes: Mean people and flan. Hit that subscribe button.

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Comments (39)

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  • J. S. Wade3 months ago

    I missed this. So sorry. The story is Spot on. Congratulations too 🥇

  • Awesome ✨ 😉❤️📝😁🎉🎉💥Congratulations💯❗❗❗❗

  • Tina3 months ago

    I am not a writer but I found Vocal on Facebook and come to read a lot on this sight, mostly while I wait at doctors office etc.have three dogs and fireworks are dreaded. I read this last week and thought it was crazy but we tried it over the weekend and it really worked! My husband and I say thanks.

  • Happy Fourth to you Dana! The western movies idea is great. A few decades ago I had a dog that would go crazy a several days - before, during and after the Fourth of July. It was crazy.

  • ema3 months ago

    My dog go crazy on new years eve, I need to keep him inside all night long, but he still barks at the door and windows. Your solution including western movies looks great, I'll try it soon, I have months till december!

  • Western movies are such an excellent idea! I just feel so sorry for them 🥺 Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Naveedkk 3 months ago

    congrats on the Top Story❤💚🤎

  • My little dog hides under the blankets my other two dogs are oblivious. I’m with my little dog it used to be on the fourth only now fireworks go off every night for days before the big day

  • Heather Hubler3 months ago

    Oh this is a painful topic for the last six years as our girl is petrified of fireworks. We get a lot of people practicing shooting around here and also a local army national guard base that does very loud artillery practice but nothing helps her. We can't go anywhere or be outside at all :( Thank you so much for this article recognizing the situation and with helpful tips! Congratulations on Top Story!!

  • I'm so glad you considered 4th of July from the pet's perspective. Sometimes humans are so focused on themselves and their own fun and frivolity that they lack the concern for pets and other animals. There was a great story I read on Vocal several months ago that spoke of the dangers of fireworks for birds as it impedes their navigation. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Gina C.3 months ago

    Oh! This was such a wonderful read, Dana! We, too, have a pup that is consistently frightened by the pesky fireworks. That is a genius idea to start to accustom them to the noise with western movies! 😅❤️❤️ I never would have thought about that! By the way, that picture of your hotdog has me drooling, lol! Congrats on Top Story!

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    Congratulations, btw!

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    A very thoughtful article and some great advice. The celebrations started in my neighborhood last week and will continue throughout most of the month. We have two 60lb lap dogs this time of year.

  • Naomi Gold3 months ago

    Not a dog owner, but this was great and timely advice. And that loaded hot dog looks amazing. I hope you and Louie enjoy your holiday weekend as much as you can. Congrats on Top Story! 🥂

  • Cathy Maulion3 months ago

    Congrats Dana🎉🎉🎉

  • Leslie Writes3 months ago

    What a great Idea! Coincidentally, ‘The Quick and The Dead’ is my favorite western.

  • Heidi McCloskey3 months ago

    I am definitely dreading the 4th for this very reason. I have two chihuahuas. The neighborhood behind me started with the fireworks a couple of days ago, so I am already feeling helpless. 😔

  • Jarosław3 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Alexander Kipruto3 months ago

  • Lamar Wiggins3 months ago

    Great article. It’s the same with thunder with our dog. But over the years he has gotten better. He will just sit beside you instead of trying to climb in your mouth, lol. Thanks for creating and sharing, and congrats!

  • Excellent points and congratulations on your important Top Story

  • JBaz3 months ago

    Always happens, yet I failed to find a solution, thanks Dana Congratulations

  • Tiffany Gordon 3 months ago

    Great Tips Dana! Enjoy your Holiday! Congrats on your TOP STORY!

  • C. H. Richard3 months ago

    Some great advice. We are in the process of adopting a new pup who is very social but also hates loud bangs so this advice is very helpful. Congratulations on Top Story too! ❤️

  • Em Starr3 months ago

    What a great article, Dana! I love this little doggo hack... and you've even managed to throw in some cool movie recommendations! I love a good Western. My staffy is terrified of fireworks and thunder. He crawls onto my lap and hides his face in my armpit, and not much can calm him down. I've found the weighted blankets work to some extent, but I'm definitely going to try your trick! Congrats on an excellent Top Story!

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