Fireworks, typically relegated to the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve seem to be more prevalent and more frequent — much to the chagrin of many pet parents. If you have a dog who is afraid of the booms and snaps and pops from fireworks, take heart, we have some tips to help both you and your dogs cope.
Because of coronavirus, we know that many municipalities have canceled sanctioned fireworks displays because of concerns of social distancing. In many neighborhoods across the country, though backyard fireworks enthusiasts keep setting them off — and setting off our dog’s fears.
How To Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks Displays
Here are our best tips for helping your dog during fireworks displays and neighbors setting off fireworks in their yards.
- Don’t communicate your stress from the fireworks to your dog. If they feel that you’re upset they will pick up on that and it will feed into their stress. Your dog can’t tell if you’re angry or frightened he just knows you’re giving off a vibe that something isn’t right and if your dog is already afraid, your feelings will heighten his.
- Act calm. If you’re walking your dog and fireworks start going off, talk calmly to your dog as you make your way back home. Treat and praise him for his calm actions.
- Keep your dogs indoors. If you know that fireworks in your neighborhood will inevitably go off once the sun goes down, get your dog’s walks in before that happens. When you’re indoors, play games, use food puzzle toys, introduce some new toys or other activities to keep your pup busy and his thoughts occupied on something other than the noises outside.
- Close the curtains and close the windows and doors. The sight of the flashes of lights in the sky could make your dog as anxious as the sounds themselves. Closing the windows and doors can act as a barrier to the sounds.
- Turn on DOGTV. When you turn on ambient noise and sounds in the house, it will block out the outside sounds. You certainly don’t want to turn your television to an eardrum-shattering level, but turning it on can help calm and relax your pup.
- Tire your pup out. If you know there will be fireworks once the sun goes down get your pup tired out before. He just might sleep through the sounds if he is tired from a run, game of fetch, puzzle food toy hide and seek or a swim.
- Get out of town. If you know there is no way to avoid the fireworks where you live, see if you can find somewhere else to stay that may be quieter — a cabin in the woods or a tent in the woods. Some pets and pet parents live in big cities and there is no escaping the displays and getting out of town may be the only reprieve you get.
- Exposure training. You certainly don’t want to take your dog to a fireworks display and expose him in that way, but you can start out by finding fireworks displays on television. Turn the sounds on and sit with your pup. Calmly talk to him and pet him and give him treats. If he can see and hear the sounds and have you by his side he may develop a tolerance to the sounds — it’s the same as getting him accustomed to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. Exposure training takes time; plan on weeks or even months of this before your dog is comfortable.
- In extreme cases you may want to talk with your veterinarian. There are some dogs who, no matter what you do or what you try, will be terrified of fireworks and thunder storms (any loud noises, really) and may need to have medication in order to safely and calmly make it through. Your veterinarian is the best source of advice on how to help your beloved pup weather a thunderstorm or a fireworks display.
What have you found that helps your pup deal with fireworks and other loud noises? We would love to know.
Another tip is to make certain your dog is not able to escape and dash off into the night. The Fourth of July is one of the biggest times of the year for dogs to run away. Keep your dog securely on a leash and away from open doors.
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