Is your dog scared of fireworks? Just like with other loud noises and thunderstorms, it’s a very common fear among pets. Use the following tips each Independence Day and New Year’s Eve to help comfort and control their anxiety during fireworks season.
Outlined below are five simple steps you can take before, during, and after the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve to help your dog stress less when they hear the sound of fireworks.
Dog Scared of Fireworks? Plan Ahead.
First and foremost, keep your dog inside when you know there’s going to be a fireworks display. July 5 is one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters because so many dog owners lose their dogs on the 4th of July from fear of fireworks.
Dogs with noise phobias activate their natural fight-or-flight response when they hear loud sounds. The booms from fireworks, firecrackers, and the like will have your dog take off faster than the Road Runner.
Consider planning a short stay-cation to the mountains or rural area near your city to get away from the noise. This will help take away some of the anticipated fear for your furry friends before the shows begin.
If you can’t get out of town, there are many ways you can create a safe space for them in your home. Before the fireworks start, try the following:
- You can use a diffuser with calming essential oils like lavender, or a DAP diffuser like adaptil that releases relaxing pheromones.
- To keep your dog calm you can give them a natural supplement like Rescue Remedy or CBD treats.
- Some anxious dogs respond well to wearing an anxiety wrap like a Thundershirt.
- Play a white noise machine to drown out the booming sounds outside.
Acclimate Your Dog
Hearing something frightening for the first time without understanding the source, pattern or location can be frustrating and can increase your dog’s fear. That’s where desensitization comes in.
You can try to desensitize them in advance by playing recorded sounds of fireworks in your home. This reassures them that they are safe and away from danger, even with the loud sounds present.
Let Them Know What’s Going On
Dogs largely understand more than we give them credit for. Communicating with your dog during the fireworks by sending them a calming message or by demonstrating you are not stressed can help them to be calmer. Sometimes energy is everything.
Treat Them to Something Irresistibly Delicious
It’s moments like these where a treat puzzle or interactive dog game and high-value treats come in handy. Before the booms are about to start, stuff a treat dispenser with smelly snacks like boiled chicken, freeze-dried dog treats, or peanut butter. This will help to counter-condition them to all the noise going on.
Dogs with noise aversion need a designated safe haven. Make a comfortable place of refuge in your home where they can retreat when they feel stressed. Think about a quiet, dark room or their crate/kennel. Keep blankets and their favorite toys nearby.
An enclosed calming dog bed that your dog can cuddle with is another great item to consider. Donut dog beds are perfect for dogs who love to curl up to sleep.
If you still struggle to help your dog with his firework phobia or any other persistent noise-related anxiety, consider consulting a veterinary behaviorist or dog trainer.
Some dogs need the extra help, whether that’s through medication, desensitization, or training practice, and that’s OK. Do whatever you can to enhance his health, happiness, and overall quality of life.
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