No one wants to see their pup distressed. However, there comes a day every year where we know it’s inevitable – the Fourth of July. But it might not be. There are things you can do before and during the fireworks that can greatly relieve your dog’s anxiety.
Know the Signs
Panting, pacing, whining, and shaking are a few of the signs of your dog being stressed. Not all dogs fear fireworks, but most do. But don’t worry, if your dog is showing any of these signs, read on and we’ll help you learn some new things you can do to help relieve your pup's stress.
Some dog’s first instinct when scared is to run and we can’t always prevent it. Keep your pet’s recovery information attached to them at all times in case anything goes wrong. A SmartBuckle collar may lead to a speedier recovery. It has an embedded ID tag that links to all your contact information along with any extra information you want to include such as behavior or medical notes about your dog.
Exposing your dog to firework sounds on YouTube, first at a low volume and slowly increasing the volume over time, may help reduce your dog’s anxiety during fireworks. While playing these noises, give your dog treats or play a game so they can associate it with something positive.
It's a good idea to make sure you are home with your dog during fireworks. Their anxiety can greatly increase if they’re alone. If you can’t be home, having someone you trust who can be at home with them will go a long way in relieving your dog's anxiety.
Choosing a room
Choose a room for your dog to stay in that has the least amount of windows. You want your dog to be in the room where they will hear the least amount of noise.
Stock the room
Before the fireworks start, place water and comforting items in the room. They tend to pant when scared so make sure they have water on hand so they stay hydrated. Placing comforting, familiar items in the room will also help reduce their anxiety. It’s helpful to move in their bed or crate so they have a familiar place to lay down. Stock the room with other familiar items as well such as their favorite toy or blanket. Another great solution is to leave items of your clothing or something that smells like you in the room so your smell can comfort your dog when you can’t.
You can try to get your dog to engage in an activity such as giving them a bone to chew on or playing with a toy with them, but not all dogs will take the bait during fireworks. In that case, petting the dog in a soothing motion may calm and somewhat distract your dog. You can also feed them treats if they are staying calm. Overall, you want to replace the negative – the fireworks – with the positive – playing, petting, treats.
Some people say that if you ignore their behavior they will learn not to act that way during fireworks. But that is not the case. Anxiety induced dogs can not learn, they are overstimulated and emotional, so you comforting them is not rewarding their behavior. Instead, a calming massage may help them relax.
A thunder jacket may also help your pup. The weighted down material is made to imitate swaddling to make your dog calmer. There are also numerous other products on the market such as compression hoodies to cover their ears, calming dog treats, and natural stress relief oils such as Canine Calm.
Talk to your vet
If after using all these tips, your dog shows no signs of being any calmer it’s a good idea to talk to your vet. They may have more methods to help and they can also assess if anxiety medication is needed.
Have a happy and safe fourth!
-Written by Alye Chaisson