The 4th of July can be an exceptionally stressful time for your dog if you live in an area where people are shooting off fireworks or fireworks shows occur. The continuous loud sound of fireworks can be overwhelming for your dog, with some dogs being driven into complete panic by the noise.
Many people report their dogs going missing from their yards on this day, and some people have even reported their dogs breaking glass doors and running away due to their overwhelming fear. To help you manage how your dog feels during this stressful time, here are some top tips that can help.
The 12 Tips to Keep Your Dog Calm During 4th of July Fireworks
1. Be Calm
Dogs are intelligent and social creatures that feed off of our feelings. If you’re feeling anxious and stressed about the fireworks or know your dog is going to react poorly, then your dog is more likely to be stressed and upset during the fireworks.
Work to keep yourself calm and level. Work on meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga if you need a little help calming yourself down. It’s also important to try to keep everyone in the house calm, including rowdy children. Try to keep everyone relaxed to help your dog feel a little better.
2. Burn Energy
Your dog will be less likely to be stressed if they aren’t full of excess energy. Try to wear your dog out early in the day through games, puzzles, and exercise. The more tired they are, the more likely your dog will be to be extra anxious and fearful during the fireworks. Under the best and most normal circumstances, excess energy can lead to dogs becoming destructive, stressed, and unhappy. In a high-stress situation, the extra energy your dog has can become a big problem, especially in a high-energy breed or a high-anxiety pup.
3. Create a Safe Area
Give your dog a safe space for them to spend time in during the fireworks. This can be their kennel if they feel comfortable and safe there, but you can also set up a special cozy spot on the couch, in your bed, or in whatever area you’re planning on spending your evening in. Add some of your dog’s favorite things to their safe space, like toys, blankets, and clothes that smell like you. A space that feels extra safe will help your dog feel like there’s a place they can go for safety and comfort once the fireworks start.
You may have to show your dog the space or sit next to it to encourage them to use it if they are extra fearful, though.
4. Walk Early
Going for a walk is a daily occurrence for many dogs and taking them out of that habit can create more stress for them. However, if you go for a walk at 7 pm and people are already starting to shoot off fireworks, you’ll just end up with a frightened dog attempting to escape their leash in the middle of your neighborhood. Aim to go for a long, soothing walk early in the day, well before people will start shooting off fireworks.
If you live in an area where people are shooting off fireworks all day, take your dog to a local park or hiking trail that is away from the sound of fireworks and that will burn energy and give your dog an enjoyable experience.
5. Block Noise
Finding ways to block the loud noises outside your house doesn’t have to be overly complex. Some people prefer to use white noise machines in an attempt to block out the sound of fireworks. White noise is a good option because it isn’t likely to add stress to your dog. You can also turn up the volume on the TV or radio to block out the sounds, but make sure to choose a movie or station that isn’t going to create more stressful sounds for your dog. Avoid anything that produces sounds that are similar to fireworks, like explosions and gunfire.
6. Close the Curtains
This is a simple fix, but it can make a big difference for your dog if people are shooting off fireworks nearby your house. Keeping your blinds and curtains closed will not only help block a small amount of sound, but it will also prevent your dog from having to see the flashes of the fireworks. For some dogs, seeing the fireworks is just as stressful as hearing them. You should also aim to set your dog’s safe space up in a room that doesn’t have a lot of windows, especially if your curtains are thin and outside lights tend to come through them.
7. Get Calming Pheromones
Calming pheromones are available in most pet stores and can be a lifesaver for dogs experiencing high stress. These pheromones mimic the pheromones produced by female dogs when they nurse their puppies. This is a simple way to help your dog feel comfort and safety. These pheromones are usually available in multiple forms. Plug-in pheromones can diffuse the pheromones throughout an entire area, while sprays are a great option for spraying directly on your dog’s bedding. There are also calming collars that can be used and that will stay with your dog wherever they go.
8. Offer Long-Lasting Treats
Distraction via treats can be a great way to keep your dog occupied and not focused on stress-inducing noises during 4th of July fireworks. Most vets recommend avoiding rawhide chews because they can be difficult to digest, but other long-lasting chews can be a good alternative. One of the best ways to keep your dog working on a treat for a long time is by providing them with a stuffed and frozen treat, like a Kong. You can fill these with dog food, treats, fruits and veggies, peanut butter, yogurt, and broth, then freeze them for later use.
9. Try Dog Earmuffs
This one takes a little bit of planning because you’ll not only have to find dog earmuffs, but you’ll have to train your dog to comfortably wear them. If you get dog earmuffs and try to put them on your dog for the first time on July 4th, then they may end up creating more stress and fear for your dog. Start by slowly introducing your dog to the earmuffs at least a few weeks in advance. Use lots of treats and positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to wear the muffs, slowly extending the time that your dog wears them. Don’t forget that they’ll likely need them on for multiple hours on the 4th of July.
10. Provide Comfort
One of the best tools in your arsenal to keep your dog calm is you. Provide your dog with lots of comfort, reassurance, and love during fireworks to help them feel extra safe. You can spend time petting them or providing treats. You can also try to get them to play a game with you, although they may not feel up to it if the fireworks have already started and they’re afraid. Your calm and loving presence can be the best comfort possible for your dog.
11. Get Your Vet’s Help
If you know your dog is highly anxious during fireworks, then talk to your vet about medications that may help. There are multiple prescription medications that can help treat anxiety in dogs. This can be especially beneficial if your dog has a tendency to hurt themselves or destroy things when they’re stressed.
Dogs that may obsessively dig at a door or crate or that are at risk of injuring themselves trying to get out or through a glass door can really benefit from medications. While there is a lot of helpful information online regarding both over-the-counter and prescription medications, so too is there a lot of misinformation and anecdotal information from other people’s experiences with their dogs on particular medications; not all options (or doses) that are safe or effective for every dog. Make sure to talk to your vet about all available pharmaceutical treatment options available for your dog.
12. Go Somewhere Else
If all else fails, take your dog somewhere else for the night. Find a dog-friendly hotel or a short-term rental that is away from fireworks. Many hotels offer soundproof or reduced sound rooms that can help block the sound of fireworks if the hotel is located near a place where fireworks may be set off. You can make this a fun and adventurous experience for your dog by making it a calm and soothing environment, as well as providing some of their favorite things. Make sure to talk to the hotel about your intent to bring your dog to escape the sound of fireworks so they can plan your room accordingly.
Keeping your dog calm during fireworks can be a real challenge, but you have lots of options you can pursue to help your dog feel safe, comfortable, and confident during this stressful time. Make it a point to plan well ahead of July 4th for your dog’s comfort and safety. Don’t wait until the last minute to get medications or supplies to help your dog.
Also, make sure your dog’s tags are updated and attached to their collar securely, just in case your dog does manage to get away from you.
You might also like:
Featured Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock