It’s a familiar complaint for dog owners nationwide come July 4th: “They’re just absolutely terrified of the fireworks! I wish the neighbors would stop setting them off now”.
Watching your dog suffer through another round of loud fireworks can be heartbreaking. As much as you know that there is no threat to your dog or your home, they believe that the loud noises signal imminent danger.
Sometimes, the stress and anxiety caused by fireworks can mean that dogs escape the home out of fear and confusion. Please make sure that you have given your dog an appropriate ID tag and microchipped them before July 4th.
Why is your dog scared of fireworks?
Firstly, they’re simply very loud. If a human heard a firework without understanding what it was, they would also be concerned (consider a human baby’s reaction to the sound of fireworks). Also, consider that dogs have a more sensitive hearing ability than humans. Combine a sharp sense of hearing and a lot of confusion, and there is no wonder that dogs fear fireworks.
Firework sounds are unpredictable. The noise made by fireworks does not follow a consistent pattern, and different fireworks make different noises. To your dog, this ‘random’ barrage of sound might seem threatening, so they are likely to start getting stressed out.
They feel trapped. Your dog might try hiding in every area of your house, but the sound of fireworks is still just as loud. This only makes them feel even more panicked, as they realize there is nothing they can do to get away from the loud sounds.
How can you help your dog feel better on July 4th?
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to bring your dog some comfort when it is time for loud sounds to make an entrance.
Keep them safe by keeping them indoors. As much as your dog might signal that they want to be in the backyard to try and escape the noise, they are liable to run away if they are in a state of heightened anxiety. Keeping them indoors is the main thing to remember.
Try desensitizing them beforehand. In the days and weeks before July 4th, try to help your dog learn that fireworks need not be feared! You could consider playing some firework effects on a low volume while feeding them some treats to begin with. Gradually increase the volume until your dog learns to associate the sound of fireworks with rewards and positive emotions!
Distract them with personal comforts. If you suspect that the noise of fireworks will affect your dog, consider encouraging them to enter a safe space like their crate or bed. Play some soft background music while they cuddle up with their favorite blanket.
Consider pressure therapy. Up to 80% of anxious dogs show improvement with pressure therapy. To try this, you could purchase a snug doggy shirt that is tailored to apply just enough pressure to your pet’s body to keep them feeling calm.
Take them for a long walk before the fireworks. If you are anticipating a night of fireworks, try taking your dog for plenty of exercise before it starts. This will hopefully wear them out, which should keep them relatively sedated during the night.
Jack Vale is a writer from Happy Writers, Co. in partnership with K9 Sport Sack, the top retailer for dog backpack