Fireworks might be awe-inspiring for some people, but many dogs are scared of fireworks and find the sound and spectacle terrifying. Dog fireworks anxiety can leave your pets in a panicked state.
It should go without saying that anxious dogs don’t belong at fireworks displays. But even dogs at home can be overwhelmed by the noise, especially if the neighbors are setting off their own fireworks. That’s why it is so important to help your pet.
Dogs that are scared of fireworks might hide, tremble, pace, or whine in response to the sounds, leading pet parents to consider trying medications to help deal with the behaviors. However, the following tips might help reduce dog fireworks anxiety.
Schedule Meals and Potty Time Early
It’s important to time your dog’s dinner and potty trips well in advance of nightfall, since fireworks typically start as soon as the sun sets. There’s nothing worse than a dog that’s scared of fireworks that needs a potty break but is too terrified to step out the door.
Give your dog enough time to finish his dinner, digest, and potty before the noise begins so he’s not forced to hold it during an already stressful period.
Keep Your Pup Occupied During Fireworks
Provide distraction by giving your dog something delicious to focus on during fireworks, like a KONG Classic dog toy. Stuff the busy toy with special goodies like your dog’s all-time favorite treat so that he has something else to focus on during the noise.
You can also give your pup a frozen treat to gnaw on, like a carrot.
Anxious dogs don’t belong at fireworks displays, but even dogs at home can be overwhelmed by the noise.
Muffle the Noise
It’s easy to understand why dogs are scared of fireworks; the unpredictable booming sounds can be perceived as an impending threat and make a dog feel vulnerable.
While counterconditioning with a fireworks recording throughout the year will help your dog learn to cope with the noise, an easy way to manage dog fireworks anxiety during the event is to simply muffle the sounds with something else.
Plug in a white noise machine or turn on some calming music loud enough so the fireworks are camouflaged. If your dog’s “safe zone” is his crate, you can also cover the top, sides, and back with a thick blanket and play music or sounds for him. Just make sure your dog can leave the crate if he wants to.
Comfort Your Dog
You might have heard that comforting your dog in times of stress can reinforce his fears. However, your dog’s reactions to fireworks are based on a legitimate fear. Providing comfort during this time is appropriate and often helpful.
Sitting close to your dog, petting him gently and offering quiet words of reassurance during scary events like fireworks can help to center your dog and might even reduce his fearfulness. Plus, doing so will help your dog understand that you’re his partner and that he can always turn to you when he’s feeling scared.
Consider Calming Supplements
Calming supplements can be used to help support your pet during stressful events such as fireworks. Calming treats such as VetriScience Soft Chews or Nutramax Solliquin Chews promote relaxation without sedation.
Another alternative is a pheromone collar or diffuser. These calming solutions can really help your furry friend relax during stressful times.
Consult a Professional
If your dog’s behavior doesn’t improve, find a positive trainer to help you and your dog work through relaxation protocols.
If your dog’s fireworks anxiety puts them or you in danger, talk with your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist about anxiety medication for dogs and whether it’s necessary.
Remember that your dog’s fireworks anxiety is a visceral response, and it will likely take a multi-step approach to help your dog feel more comfortable with the sounds.