4th of July can be a very difficult time for dogs who are afraid of fireworks. In this article, I discuss a few tips by which you can calm the dog during the fireworks session.
As the United States gets ready to celebrate 248 years of independence, everyone is excited about the festivities except your dogs and cats. Dogs have very sensitive ears. Fireworks send your dog’s body on a sudden alert mode. The unpredictability and loud noises of the fireworks can set your dog on edge. It has also been observed that it is this day of the year when there are maximum cases of dogs running away from home. Read the complete post to understand how you can calm the dog during such situations.
First, let’s go through some of the reasons behind the fearfulness of your dog towards the fireworks:
The setting off of the fireworks is very unpredictable.
You are aware of the importance of Fourth of July. You are aware that there will be fireworks. However, for your dog, it’s just another day off playing, eating, sleeping, cuddling you etc. Your dog is not ready to expect fireworks in evening. He or she is not prepared for something that is going to happen so suddenly and without warning. The flashing lights of the fireworks are different every time. This startles you dog and sends him or her in high alert. The different colors of fireworks launched in the sky further confuses your dog.
The fireworks are very loud
There is no doubt that fireworks are very loud. Since we expect it, it does not startle or bother us. However, your dog is completely unaware that something like this will take place in the evening. Dogs have a hearing which is 4 times more sensitive than humans. They can also tune into a large frequency range. Therefore, the noise from the fireworks can be very upsetting to your pup. The loud booms of the firecracker also alarms your dog, increases his or her heartbeat and sends him or her into a panic mode. The sudden whistles and cackles of the fireworks hurt your dog’s sensitive hearing.
The dogs see fireworks as threats
The unpredictability as well as the levels of noise produced during the fireworks session sends dogs into an alert mode. They start to perceive fireworks as threat. This causes a trigger of the dog’s fight or flight response. The dog will either start barking at the noise or try to find a place to hide. Fireworks may also cause some dogs to suddenly become aggressive.
Your dog may also start to have a panic and anxiety attack and shows symptoms like restlessness, whining, pacing as well as heavy panting.
Fireworks make your dog feel trapped
If the noises of the fireworks trigger your dog’s flight response, he or she will try to get as far away from the fireworks as possible. The unfortunate part is that, your dog has nowhere to escape from the noises of the fireworks. Thus, he or she may feel trapped inside the house where the loud booms can still be heard.
How can you calm the dog during the fireworks?
As you would have understood by now or from your prior experience that dogs hate fireworks and they have reasons to do so. Lucky for you, I will be discussing some of the things you can do to make your dog feel safe, calm and comfortable during the fireworks.
Keep your dog inside
In case you have an outdoor dog [dogs who like to spend that time outside the house], it is a good idea to bring him or her in the house before the fireworks start. This will keep your dog from trying to run away from the house. This will also reduce the noise of the firework reaching your dog’s sensitive ears.
Make a safe space for your dog
In case your dog is crate trained or if your dog loves a specific region of the house, keep the crate or the region available to your dog so that he or she can escape there to get away from the firework noises. If you do not have a specific space, you can put your dog in the bathroom or in any small room and put up some music which your dog might enjoy. This safe space should contain the dog’s favorite toys, blanket, bed and any other item which your dog is very attached to. The presence of these things will help your dog feel comfortable.
Use a calming wrap to calm the dog
Calming vests, shirts as well as wraps apply a light and constant pressure on your dog. This act as hugs for your dog and help to keep him or her calm and soothed. These products can also help your dog stay calm during other situations which induce anxiety in your dog like thunderstorms etc.
Desensitize your pup towards fireworks
If you are planning to desensitize your dog towards fireworks, start the training process well in advance (at least a month prior to 4th of July). Start by setting of low noise fireworks. Give your dog lots of encouragement and treats for not reacting to the firework. You can also play with your pup during this time to keep him or her distracted. Over a period of a few days, depending on your dog’s progress, increase the loudness of the fireworks and continue to engage your dog in play.
Let your dog be:
If your dog has found a spot to hide, let him or her stay there. Do not force your dog to come out of hiding. However, you can go into the hiding spot of your dog if you can, and hug your dog to provide some extra comfort. Do not aggravate him or her in such a situation. You will only make the matter worse and your dog may react aggressively towards you.
Close the openings of the house
Remember to close up all the windows and doors of the house. This will not only reduce the amount of noise entering the house, it will also prevent your dog from trying to escape out of the house. Put down the curtains so your dog cannot see the bright flashes in the sky.
Do not take your dog to the celebrations
Even if your dog does not react to fireworks, do not take him or her to the places where celebrations and festivities are going on. There is a chance your dog may ingest something harmful and suffer for no reason. If any food or alcohol is left alone, your inquisitive dog may try to explore and eat the food or alcoholic beverage. Alcoholic beverages can cause our dog to become intoxicated, go into depression or even slip into a coma.
Use calming products
Calming products can be very useful during such conditions. You can give your dog CBD oil or CBD treats before the fireworks starts so that the CBD has time to take effect.
Check out CBD oil for dogs
A few more safeguarding methods which might help keep your pup calm:
Stay calm yourself:
Dogs are very attuned to what their guardians are feeding. If you are feeling anxious and nervous, your pup will pick up on this behavior and will start behaving anxiously as well. Therefore, the first thing you must focus on is to calm yourself.
Wear out your dog:
A tired dog is less likely to feel anxious compared to a high energy dog. Thus, before the starting of the festivities, take your dog for a long hike or play till he or she is so tired they cannot stay up on their feet.
Distract your pup:
If you notice your dog is beginning to feel anxious after the fireworks start, distract your pup with a game of fetch or tug of war. If you keep your pup’s mind engaged in an activity, there is less chance that he or she will focus on what is going on outside the house.
Some extra safety measures just to be on the safe side:
- Check that your dog is microchipped as well as registered with the current information.
- Check that your dog’s tag is up-to-date
- Remember to have a recent image of your pup just in case (God forbid) your pup makes an escape and you are forced to make a lost poster.
If you are still worried about the safety of your pup, consult with your veterinarian and discuss about the administration of a mild sedative to your dog.
Other articles you might find interesting:
- Training modifies the brain of your dog
- How to calm an aggressive dog? 10 Brilliant tips
- How to introduce your dog to a new pup. 14 tips
Being afraid of fireworks is not universal to all dogs. Delta (my boy) has never bothered with fireworks or loud noises. He would get scared from popping a balloon but fireworks never scare him.
You are the best person to understand what your dog might be going through. Understanding the cues shown by your dog’s body language is very important in dog care. Do not make a big deal about the loud noise if your dog does not seem to be bothered. Your over protectiveness may force him to develop fear and anxiety towards fireworks. Dogs are very sensitive towards their guardian’s emotions. Thus, first and foremost keep yourself calm and happy so that you only send out positive energy to your dog. If you liked this article and wish to get such articles directly in your inbox subscribe to the newsletter.
Wishing you an amazing 4thof July celebration with your pup and family.