In this article, Becky from Breed Advisor shares her top tips for calming your dog during fireworks!
The 4th of July is all about fun family activities as we celebrate the birth of our nation. However, for one member of the household, it can be a scary and worrying time. You need to know how to calm a dog during fireworks displays.
Many dogs find the noise of fireworks to be terrifying, and as a result, dog owners find themselves dreading the annual festivities. However, here are six steps to help keep your dog calm when the flashing lights and fireworks start.
1. Do Reassure Your Dog
Providing comfort, cuddles, and reassuring words will not worsen your dog’s anxiety. The chances are that they will appreciate the opportunity to be close to their family and feel a sense of safety.
Aim to speak in a calm, quiet voice and slowly stroke along the length of their body. Pet parents can try a calming doggy massage using the Tellington Ttouch method.
Remember, we are used to louder sounds and movements, so your pooch will react no matter what.
2. Desensitize Your Dog to the Sound of Fireworks
Recordings of Fourth of July fireworks can be found on YouTube, and these can help your dog to become used to the sounds they make.
You must play them very quietly, to begin with, so that you can barely hear them, and then assess your dog’s response. They may turn towards the sound, but they shouldn’t show any signs of becoming stressed or worried.
Over a period of days, you can slowly increase the volume until your dog pays little attention to the noise.
It’s essential that your dog remains ‘under threshold’ while they become used to the firework sounds. This means that they don’t respond in a concerned way at any point.
A qualified and experienced dog behaviorist or dog trainer may be a great option to help you and your dog through this process.
3. Exercise Before Dusk
Ensure your dog has had a good run or long walk before it gets dark. Consider using a harness and a collar with two leashes for safety; if your dog is startled by a loud noise, they may freak out and fight to get free.
Having two points of contact with your dog reduces the risk that they can get loose. Also, consider taking your dog out into the yard on a leash when they need to toilet, that desire to bolt and run can be immense when they’re scared, especially during thunderstorms or fireworks season.
Make sure your dog has a microchip and your dog’s ID tag has your current contact information so that you can be quickly reunited in a worst-case scenario.
4. Setting Up the Home
A few days before celebrations, build your dog a den or kennel that will be his little safe haven. If they have a crate and your dog likes being in there, place it in the corner of the room and cover it with a heavy blanket. If you don’t have a crate, you could put a blanket across two chairs or move your dog’s bed to what will be the quietest room in the house.
It’s key to have a safe space your pets can rely on to retreat to in times of stress.
Providing chews, dog treats, and favorite toys in your dog’s ‘den’ will encourage them to see it as being a good, safe place to be in advance of the fireworks anxiety.
Pull the blinds or curtains closed and turn the television on a little louder than usual. If you have a white noise machine, even better. Anything which helps to dampen the loud sounds of fireworks on Independence Day is going to help your dog.
Providing chews, treats, and interactive toys in your dog’s ‘den’ will encourage them to see it as being a good place to be, in advance of the firework noise. Pull the blinds or curtains closed and turn the television on a little louder than usual. Anything which helps to dampen the sound of the fireworks is going to help your dog.
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5. Distract your dog with tasty chews
Some dogs will be too scared even to consider eating, but some can be distracted from what’s going on outside with a favorite treat or game. Consider treat stuffers and long-lasting chews to lengthen the time they can help keep fear of fireworks at bay.
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6. Do Talk to your Vet
If your dog’s fear level is severe, and you haven’t been able to go through a desensitization process, then anti-anxiety medication can help in the short term.
If your dog’s fear is at the lower end of the spectrum, then there are several natural product ranges that don’t require a prescription and may also help. These include pheromone diffusers, CBD, calming treats, anxiety vests or anxiety wraps like the thundershirt, and even doggy melatonin.
Help Your Dog Feel Safe
All pups react differently to sounds and movement so help them feel more comfortable. We hope our six steps to calm your dog during fireworks will help so you can enjoy them!
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