When the Fourth of July comes around every year, there are often fireworks going on for a whole week! People at home may be setting off these startling fireballs. In some cities, there are large fireworks displays. Unfortunately, while fireworks are fun for many people, they can be incredibly startling for dogs. Here’s what to do when your dog is scared of fireworks.
Prepare Ahead of Time and Create a Quiet Zone
- Make sure your dog’s water bowl is filled with water. Stressed dogs pant more and will drink more.
- Feed your dog before the festivities begin. Once the fireworks start, you might have a hard time getting them to sit still long enough to eat their meal.
- Shut all windows and blinds. The point is to reduce as much of the startling lights that could trigger your dog’s stress response.
- Walk your dog right after their evening meal (well before dusk). Your dog might not want to go outside the rest of the night. If your dog is a runner, be sure to keep them secured on a leash, even when just taking them into your fenced yard to relieve themselves. It’s the safest approach.
- Set aside a space for your dog. This will be their quiet zone. It can be a spare room or internal room of your home (bathrooms work great) where your dog can hang out and have limited exposure to the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks.
Make Sure Your Dog’s ID is Updated
In case your dog slips their collar or manages to jump the fence in your yard, you’ll want to make sure their ID is updated. That way, if someone finds your dog, they will be returned to you. Remember, if your dog is afraid of fireworks, do not leave them unsupervised in your yard. Scared dogs surprise owners with their ability to jump a fence that seems too high, or dig their way out.
Get Your Exercise Earlier in the Day
As we said before, on the day of your local fireworks display, move your routine up. You’ll want your dog fed, walked and relieved by dusk. Then, take them to their quiet zone for safety. If the weather permits, you should exercise your dog well just before you head indoors for the night. A tired dog is less likely to become anxious. Hopefully they’ll sleep through the whole ordeal!
Talk to Your Vet
Despite all your efforts, is your dog still struggling with fear of fireworks? It may be time to discuss things with your vest. Some dogs are given medication to sedate them. They may have other, natural solutions to offer your pet. For instance, thunder shirts work on many dogs. The shirt compresses your dog to offer natural comfort. Alternatively, there are new anti-anxiety herbal remedies on the market for dogs, such as CBD treats. CBD is a natural cannabidiol extracted from hemp. There is no THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. CBD is said to have other benefits, including relief from arthritis and digestive issues.
Slowly Desensitize Your Dog to the Sound of Fireworks
You can desensitize your dog to firework sounds, or any sound for that matter, by playing the sound on your phone quietly at first, and then slowly turning the volume up. You can even pair the sound with something your dog loves like a treat. That way, they’ll associate the sound with pleasant things.
Talk to a Dog Behaviorist
The next step in treating a dog for a fear of fireworks is to reach out to a dog behaviorist. According to the American Kennel Club, “These professionals work with clients to help manage, modify, and prevent problem behavior in pets. They’re specially trained experts in the principles of animal behavior and animal learning with a set of science-backed tools, such as behavior modification.”
Whatever method you choose to help your dog, it will bring the two of you closer as you bond over this challenge.