The 4th of July is a big deal! It’s time to celebrate our freedom and patriotism, and many people are excited to celebrate with friends and family. But unfortunately for human best friends, the loud booms and flashing lights can be frightening, sending them into an absolute frenzy and causing them to shake in fear or break out into panic-filled barking.
If you have dogs that get anxious and react this way during the fireworks display and are looking for ways to comfort them as the sky lights up with color, you’ve come to the right page! This article will give you ten great tips on how to help your canines cope and keep them calm during this time of year.
Why Are Dogs
Scared of Fireworks?
The bright flashes and loud noises of fireworks, which seem harmless, will not only startle most dogs but will also cause a high level of anxiety in your furry companions, causing them to tremble, cower in the corner, and urinate. Noise-phobic dogs will have an even more intense fear response, leading to uncontrollable barking and destructive behavior that may end up damaging their own home or property.
But have you ever wondered why that is? Why are dogs afraid of fireworks? Was it because they have an acute sense that is much more sensitive than humans, creating a heightened fear response and intense anxiety when they hear it?
Interestingly, a study conducted by the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol suggests that a dog’s early-life experiences or lack of exposure to loud noises are crucial factors in developing fear responses to noises. They have also noted gun dogs like Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, and Springer Spaniels are less likely to be scared by loud sounds.
Make Sure to Have Your
Dog’s Collar Tag Updated
According to the AKC, the 4th of July has the highest number of pets run away because fireworks make them panic and anxious. So, ensure to microchip your dog, get them a properly fitting collar and make sure the information on their ID tag is up to date, for instance, your phone number, where they live, and maybe even an emergency contact person. That way, they can reunite with you if they escape and wind up at animal shelters.
Otherwise, you can get them a pet GPS tracking device. These gadgets can track your pet’s location live using satellite technology, which is a better and easier way to locate them if they went missing. Or you can install an underground dog fence, also known as invisible dog fences, to prevent them from escaping, ultimately keeping your canine safe!
How to Keep Dogs
Calm During Fireworks?
1. Keep Your Dog Away From Fireworks
The best way to keep them calm is not to let them be exposed to fireworks in the first place. Keep your dog inside during a firework show and if possible, go into a room that’s more sound-dampening or basement if you have one until it is over.
Shut all the windows, doors, and blinds to minimize firework noise. This way, your dog will only be hearing noises they’re expecting and is comfortable with, like normal household sounds.
2. Desensitize Your Dog to the Loud Noises of Fireworks
Yup. It’s hard to mask off the loud sounds of fireworks even if you keep them indoors, and the loud bangs might still trigger their anxiety, but there are other things you can do to help your dog.
One way is to introduce your dog and get them used to these sounds before July fourth comes around. You could desensitize your pup by playing the sound clips of fireworks on the TV or radio from time to time and make it less scary when they hear an actual booming noise outside on Independence Day.
Play it at a low volume first, then gradually increase the volume and make sure to associate it with something positive like their favorite treats when they don’t seem to be bothered by it and remain calm. Over time, they will learn that fireworks aren’t that scary at all.
3. Create a Safe Haven for Your Dog
Dogs are den animals, and they would naturally want to retreat to a quiet space to get away from things that frighten them, which is the fireworks in this instance! That also means you would need to create a safe haven for them so that there’s a place where they can hide when fireworks begin.
You can do that by providing them a crate with a cozy blanket and dog bed inside. That will help keep your dog calm while all the chaos ensues. (It works well for dogs who have separation anxiety too!)
4. Keep Your Dog Calm with Aromatherapy
Another way to help your dog calm down from the noise is to use aromatherapy. However, make sure to only use essential oils like lavender and chamomile and avoid those known to be harmful to dogs like cinnamon, citrus, and peppermint.
Place the diffuser in the room where your canine is most likely will be in when the fireworks go off so that they can smell it and feel safe. One thing though, make sure to keep the diffuser and essential oils out of your dog’s reach to prevent them from inhaling it directly or ingest it.
5. Put a Calming Collar on Your Dog
You can also put a pheromone-diffusing collar on your dog. These collars are usually odorless, non-toxic, and emit calming pheromones that mimic the ones lactating mother dogs produce to soothe their puppies.
These products have been proven in studies to be effective. Not only can they help reduce a pet’s anxiety during fireworks but also in other situations related to storms, separation, vet visits, and traveling!
6. Use a Thundershirt
Thundershirt, also known as anxiety wrap, is a snug-fitting vest that works by applying gentle, constant pressure on a dog’s torso. Creating an effect similar to swaddling infants, thereby releasing calming hormones like oxytocin or endorphins that can help relax anxious dogs.
In fact, the Thundershirt’s website has claimed that the vest has an over 80% success rate in relieving fear, anxiety, and over-excitement in dogs, backed by several surveys conducted with dog owners and veterinarians.
7. Play White Noise or Music
Otherwise, you can consider buying white noise machines made for pets. These devices come with different soothing nature noises such as mountain waterfalls, morning birds, ocean waves, meditative flute, and rain that can help them relax.
Many dogs also appreciate classical music. There’s one popular one called ‘Through A Dog’s Ear,’ specifically designed to reduce a dog’s anxiety, and many owners have given it great reviews and said it really works!
8. Distract Your Pup with Dog Treats and Toys
Give your dog something to do! Instead of letting their brain constantly work to make sense of loud pops and bright flashes in their environment, direct all their attention to one activity or toy in the house so that they don’t focus too hard on what’s happening outside.
You can distract them by playing tug of war or fetch with them, give them their favorite treats, toys, or let them chew a tasty, flavored wishbone. You can even make it more challenging and keeping them busy for hours by giving them an interactive toy with frozen kibble or peanut butter inside!
9. Exercise Your Dog Before Fireworks Start
Getting your fido’s heart rate up before the fireworks start is another way to help them cope with the noise as the old saying goes, a tired dog is a happy dog!
Plan a nice long walk, jog, or run with them around the nearby dog park and make it happen a few hours beforehand so that they are too tired to notice what is happening outside when the worst of the fireworks set off. And make sure to get them a harness that fits them.
10. Talk to your Vet About Medication
You’ve tried everything, and your dog is still scared and terrified during firework season? It’s time to seek veterinary advice. Make an appointment with a vet to determine what’s the best course of treatment.
The vet may recommend natural supplements like Zylkene or prescribe anti-anxiety medication that is safe for your pup! They might also suggest other remedies such as calming collars, which we’ve already mentioned earlier, or something similar like dog appeasing pheromones (DAP) diffuser sprays to help soothe your dog.
Dogs are intelligent creatures who will pick up on our emotions and take their cues from us based on how we act around them during these scary events. So, be sure to stay calm! That’s also our last tip for those who have been struggling to keep your dog calm during fireworks. We hope you’ve found this article and tips helpful and that your pup has a safe, stress-free, and happy 4th of July! Happy Independence Day!