Top 10 Tips To Reduce Your Dog’s Stress During Fireworks
The summer is an exciting time for humans. Besides the warm weather, we get an entire season packed full of holidays, celebrations, and festivals, typically ending our nights with a bang. There is just something magical about throwing your head back and watching color burst into the night sky like confetti. However, thinking like a dog, fireworks are terrifying. A dog’s survival instinct makes them naturally afraid of loud noises but fireworks are so much more than just noise to your pup. They come with no warning signs and are bright, erratic, and leave a burning smell in the air. It’s no wonder more dogs run away in the U.S. on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. They must think the world is exploding!
Now, not all dogs are scared of fireworks, but unless you 100% know otherwise, we recommend trying some of the following tips to make firework season less stressful for your dog.
- Make alternate arrangements for your dog, especially if you plan on going out or live close to a fireworks display. A couple options would be dropping your pup off at a friend or relative’s house, a dog daycare, a boarding facility, or even hiring a pet sitter to stay with them. That way if your dog does get scared, they are somewhere safe with supervision.
- Create a safe spot in your home. If you are unable to bring your dog somewhere away from the fireworks, giving them a spot they feel safe in can help. Maybe your dog already has a safe spot, like a crate, kennel, or even under your bed. Make this spot is easily accessible for them during the main event so they can hide if they want to.
- Remove the visual stimulation. There is no way to cover up the noise of fireworks, but you can still do your dog a favor by closing your windows, blinds, and curtains so they do not have to see the bright flashes of lights.
- Reassure your dog. Speaking to your dog in a calm soothing voice while petting them will also help ease their anxiety. Getting mad or forcing your dog to “face their fears” will only make the experience harder for them.
- Stay calm. Dogs are very in-tune with our emotions, body language, and tone of voice. If you make a big deal out of the fireworks by being scared or even just worried about your dog, they can pick up on this and will assume they have good reason to also be worried.
- Consider anti-anxiety tools. Talk to your veterinarian or trainer about different ways to manage your dog’s anxiety during fireworks. There are many different options such as Thundershirts, calming pheromones, supplements, and medication that could help reduce your pup’s stress.
- Be sure to feed and water your dog before the fireworks begin. If your dog is extra anxious about fireworks, they may not want to eat or drink once the noise begins. An empty stomach is one more stressor you can help your dog avoid. Also be sure to let them outside to go to the bathroom beforehand.
- Tire your dog out. A tired dog is a calm dog, so be sure to get as much exercise in before the festivities begin. The goal is to have your dog as sleepy as possible when the fireworks begin. So a walk around the block may not cut it. Try going for a run or playing fetch at the park.
- Give your dog something to do for the evening. A few minutes before the fireworks start, give your dog a special treat they can enjoy instead of paying attention to the loud noises. A Kong frozen with peanut butter, a bully stick, an antler, or any other type of long lasting chew, will be the perfect thing to help keep their mind occupied.
- It is possible to train a dog not to mind fireworks, the same way a hunting dog doesn’t mind a gunshot. However, desensitizing your dog to noises does not happen overnight. The idea is to play your dog a quiet recording of fireworks paired with a tasty treat. Then slowly increasing the volume over months. Going too loud too fast can backfire making your dog more nervous of the sound. We highly recommend consulting a trainer to help with the process.
Make firework season enjoyable for everyone by taking a few minutes to think about it from your dog’s perspective. In the end, your pup will thank you for thinking of them and making sure they are safe and happy during the festivities.