As you are preparing for your fourth of July party, many people will also be prepping their dogs. Independence Day means excitement and fun, but it also means loud noises.
You may have trouble calming your dogs, because all they will think about is the noise. Many people will turn to sedatives, but these sometimes have negative side effects.
(In fact, if you are not careful, your dog could die from ingesting too many sedatives.) Fortunately, there are many things you can do to calm your dogs down.
Ways To Calm Your Dogs
Why Do Dogs Get Scared Of Fireworks?
Dogs and fireworks generally don’t mix. While some don’t appear to be fazed by fireworks, it’s natural for dogs to be afraid of the loud bangs. After all, we humans know where these booming, unpredictable sounds are coming from but our four-legged friends don’t understand. Fear and anxiety are natural reactions to something that could be seen as a threat to their survival.
How Would You Know If Your Dogs Is Scared Of Fireworks?
Signs that your dog is scared of fireworks can include shaking, pacing up and down, or panting heavily. They may also bark more than normal, tremble, hide or drool.
Other signs of distress include destructiveness and soiling unexpectedly.
However, keep in mind that even if your dog isn’t shaking or whimpering, this doesn’t mean they aren’t distressed, they may express their anxiety in a different way.
Prepare Your Dogs For Fireworks: Here's Some Guide
Before the fireworks begin, you should:
-Take your dog for his usual walk before the fireworks are set off and ensure he’s kept on a lead at all times as the noise of fireworks may cause him to bolt
-Feed him a good meal well before the fireworks are due to start
-Ensure your pet is wearing ID so that if he does run away there’s a greater chance of him being returned to you
-Ensure your dog is microchipped and wears a collar and tag — these are both legal requirements
-Get your dog used to loud noises. You can do this using sound therapy, which gradually exposes your dog to noises over time. There are many products available, including free sound-based treatment programmes from Dog’s Trust.
Here's Some Other Tips: Follow This Methods
Preparation For Dogs
Arrange to have your dog in a place where there won’t be loud fireworks displays — a friend’s or relative’s home or a doggie day care with which your dog is familiar.
If it’s an unfamiliar place for your dog, take him over there a few times in the days before the holiday so that it won’t be a surprise when you take him there on the Fourth.
Accommodation For Dogs
If you cannot take your dog to a place away from fireworks, then have a travel kennel at home for her to feel safe in. if you’re not going to be home, have a friend or sitter there to keep your dog company and take her out to relieve herself every four hours.
The best way to prepare your dog for fireworks is to make sure he’s comfortable with the sound in advance.
While this is a simple process, it can take time — possibly three or four months of playing the recorded sound of fireworks for your dog at an increasingly louder volume before he eats, before a walk, and before affection and play.
This will condition him by association to hear the sound and interpret it as something good. While you can try this method over only a week or two, in such a short time span it should only be used in conjunction with one or more of the other tips. In any case, play the firework sounds.
If you do find it necessary to use medication or a thundershirt to calm your dog during the fireworks, remember that you must introduce any such tool at the right time, conditioning your dog to understand that the medication or thundershirt is there to bring them to a calm state.
This means that you must bring your dog to that calm state first, then introduce the tool — before the fireworks and the anxiety begin. If she is already at an anxiety level of 8 or 9, then her mental state will overrule the medication. If she is already breathing heavily, then the thundershirt, which is designed to slow her breathing, won’t work. A tool is an intellectual thing we use with a dog’s instincts. The challenge is knowing how and when to connect the two.
Communicate With Your Dogs
If you are going to be with your dog during the fireworks, sending the calming message that they are nothing to worry about will also help him to relax.
Remember, though, while humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with energy, and will look to their pack leader for clues on how they should behave.
If you’re not making a big deal or showing excitement about the fireworks, then he will learn to be less concerned as well.
In all cases above, expend your dog’s excess energy first, before the fireworks start, by taking her on a very long walk to tire her out and put her in a calm state.
Most importantly, don’t think of this in terms of your dog as your child who is missing out on a great, fun time. That’s human guilt. Your dog won’t know what she’s missing.
You’re being a good pack leader by not exposing her to a situation that will trigger her flight instinct in a negative way.
When the booms and bangs of Independence Day are over, your dog will be grateful to you for having made it a less stressful experience!
What To Do When Your Dog's Stressed During Fireworks: Top 10 Tips
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, a puppy playpen, a 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.
Not To Do With Your Dogs When There Is Fireworks
Regardless of your dog’s reaction to fireworks, you should NEVER do any of the following:
- Tie your dog up outside if fireworks are being set off
- Let them off the lead near a fireworks display
- Leave your dog alone if he’s suffering from firework anxiety — just like us, our pets seek comfort in numbers, so your presence will help reassure him
- Shout at your dog if he’s destructive as a result of distress — this will only upset him more