Summer brings with it a plethora of fireworks. The Fourth of July is the biggest, and usually most prolonged fireworks event, but in many areas of the country, it seems that fireworks displays are being held throughout the summer.
Also, don’t forget that some dogs are as frightened of thunder and lightning storms as they are of fireworks. These tips will work to keep your dog calm during times of loud, unexpected and potentially scary sounds this summer.
There were fireworks at Memorial Day. I’ve heard fireworks during small summer festivals and there are even fireworks for New Year’s Eve (a time when you believe your dog is “safe” from the loud bangs and booms). What is a pet parent to do when others are oohing and aaahhhing at the displays of light and sound, but your poor dog is panting, hiding and trembling?
7 Ways To Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks
Planning ahead for potential fireworks displays is sometimes not possible because how are you to know when they will be going off? How many of you live in a neighborhood where one of your neighbors decides to set off a (probably illegal) fireworks display in his or her backyard?
Close the windows and the curtains. If the fireworks are close enough that your dog can not only hear the booms, but can see the bright lights in the sky, closing the curtains will help. Closing the windows and the curtains will help cut back on the sights and sounds that might scare your pup.
Turn on the television or a radio. Turning on background noise such as a radio may help calm your dog by diverting his attention to the scary sounds from outside. Turn on some DOGTV and curl up with your pup in a room where it’s quiet. If your living room is closer to the fireworks display, go sit in the bedroom and watch DOGTV there if it’s quieter. Grab a FREE 14-day trial of DOGTV to help your dog through the July 4th fireworks.
Use calming aids. Whether you use a Thundershirt or calming sprays or even CBD products to calm your dog, they may help calm him and in conjunction with some of the other tips, he may get through the fireworks displays with minimal distress. Talk with your veterinarian if you plan to try calming aids for your dog as he or she may have fantastic suggestions.
Keep your emotions in check. Even if you are fearful of fireworks displays, you need to try to be as calm as you can. Our dogs are empathetic to our emotions and if he senses your distress he will become even more anxious. I remember that my mother was terrified of thunder and lightning storms and every dog we had when I was growing up was terrified of the same things. I love a good fireworks display and thunder and lightning storms and my poodle, Henrietta (who has high anxiety) is not bothered by storms or the sounds of fireworks. I believe she senses my enjoyment of them and doesn’t feel any fear or anxiety because of that.
Play a game. Rather than sitting, trembling together on the couch grab your dog’s favorite toy and play a game. Turn on the television or a radio, close the curtains and play a rousing game of fetch. Fill a food puzzle toy and let your dog work out the puzzle and get the treats during the storm. It will distract him and keep him emotionally and physically involved during the fireworks.
Give your dog a safe space. If she loves her crate, make sure she has unfettered access to it. Give her additional treats. Put a shirt or blanket that has your scent on it in there with her. You know your dog best and know whether she should be locked in or if she should just have easy access to her crate during the fireworks. If her crate is where she goes to escape and it makes her calm, let her go there. Some pet parents feel they need to have their dogs in sight during scary times, but this could stress your dog even more. If she wants to “hide out” in her crate, let her.
Keep your dog home. Some pet parents insist on taking their dogs with them to fireworks displays. If your dog is frightened of loud noises, why would you subject him to not only the fireworks, but to all of the people there? Imagine if you’re a dog at a fireworks display — you hear are the loud noises and you’re in danger of being trampled by strangers. If you’re worried about leaving your fearful dog home alone during the fireworks because he is frightened, you need to make the decision to stay home with him or to ask a friend or family member to stay with him to keep him calm.
Bonus tip: July 5th is one of the busiest days at shelters. It is a time when dogs who have bolted out a door or slipped their collar end up being caught and delivered to a shelter. If your dog doesn’t have a collar or a microchip with up-to-date contact information, you run the risk of not being reunited with your pup. On July 4th, (especially) and throughout the year, make sure your dog wears a collar he cannot slip out of. If your dog is wearing a collar, make sure there is a tag with your current contact information. Microchipping your dog and having him in a collar is the best way to help assure you will be reunited if he escapes during fireworks.
Is your dog afraid of fireworks? What is your best tip for keeping him or her safe and calm? We’d love to have you share your tip with us! Leave us a comment!