Top 10 Tips To Help Your Dog Cope With Fireworks
Do fireworks freak out your dog? Do they shake, drool, and cry when your neighborhood lights up with bangs and booms? It’s natural for dogs to feel afraid of loud noises, but severe fireworks anxiety can be dangerous. Many dogs go missing from their homes when they try to flee from the perceived danger, and others can hurt themselves in a panic.
With the 4th of July just around the corner, we wanted to share our top 10 tips to help your dog cope with and eventually overcome fireworks anxiety.
# 1 Start listening to recorded fireworks shows.
You can desensitize your dog to the sound of fireworks by playing recordings of shows on YouTube. Start low and slow – this isn’t the time to blast your subwoofer! You do not want the audio to be loud enough to terrify your dog. The fireworks should be played at a low-to-normal volume. You want your dog to realize that fireworks = fun. For every quiet boom, make sure something good happens. Throw a few treats in the air and toss around your dog’s favorite toy. After a few fun sessions, your dog will start to look at you when they hear those booms in anticipation of your fun reaction.
# 2 Rule out veterinary issues.
Dogs who suffer from chronic pain are more likely to suffer from noise, anxiety, and fear of fireworks. If your dog was once tolerant of fireworks but has gotten more anxious over the years, go for a checkup to rule out any possible underlying medical issues.
# 3 Stay home to celebrate the 4th.
Dogs can learn to nap through the sounds of fireworks, but until then, they need you home with them. Make plans to stay at home to bring in the new year. It may seem like a downer not to head out to celebrate, but your furry friend will LOVE you for it. Snuggle with your dog on the couch while celebrating the 4th.
#4 Get a calming aid that works for your dog.
Give your dog a special calming supplement or treat about 30-60 minutes before the fireworks start. Alternatively, ask your veterinarian to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication beforehand. You can also try a holistic remedy alongside or as an alternative to prescription medication.
“Hush, Puppy” calming soft chews from Okoa Pet are peanut butter-flavored calming treats that contain 3 mg of broad-spectrum hemp and other natural calming ingredients proven to help dogs relax. In a recent survey of 98 pet parents, “Hush, Puppy” chews significantly anxiety-related behaviors like barking and shaking associated with loud noises. Give your dog a “Hush, Puppy” treat before the fireworks begin to set the mood for a fear-free evening. Doing so will allow everyone in your family to enjoy a pleasant start to the new year.
#5 Make a special fireworks playlist.
Listening to music during the fireworks display serves two purposes. First, it will help drown out the booms. You might be surprised to learn that dogs find some genres calming. Classical music, reggae, and jazz have all been shown in research studies to have a soothing effect on dogs with anxiety.
#6 Bring in some soothing smells.
Your dog’s sense of smell is about 10,000 times more powerful than yours. As such, it’s one of the ways their environment can affect their mood. Apply just a drop of lavender essential oil to their collar or a bandana to help them relax. It wouldn’t hurt to have a batch of their favorite homemade treats baking.
# 7 Never scold your dog for having feelings.
Your dog might act out when they’re feeling scared. They might bark, cry, destroy things, dig, or even try to escape their yard. Make sure they’re in a safe space where they cannot hurt themselves. Remember that scolding your dog will not make them unafraid. When your dog is scared, it’s hard for them to listen to commands like, “Be quiet!” The only way to help your dog overcome fireworks anxiety is to alter their mental state and build positive associations around those scary booms. Peace and quiet will follow.
# 8 Bring out the GOOD snacks.
While working on desensitization and during the fireworks, try giving your dog a special, fireworks-only snack. It won’t take long before they start to associate the sound of the booms with the drool-worthy flavor of their special treat. Anything goes, as long as it does not contain toxic ingredients like grapes, raisins, or chocolate, isn’t too sugary or fatty, or isn’t given in excessive amounts. Natural peanut butter on small bites of hot dog? Why not. Sardines and low-fat cream cheese? Perfect.
# 9 Create a sound-proof haven.
Dogs are den animals, so they run for cover when they think they’re in danger. Make sure your dog is not left alone in your yard, even if you think they can’t dig or scale the fence. Make sure their crate is super cozy, and you can even cover it in blankets to help block out the sounds. Carpets, curtains, and other fabrics can all help make a room quieter.
# 10 Look for moments of calm.
While you and your dog are listening to fireworks videos on YouTube, or during the booms, look for those small moments in which they find peace. They may settle down, stretch out, and sigh. Also, look for moments where they look to you for comfort rather than pacing and whining. Any time you notice your dog starting to relax, give them some soft verbal praise. Again, do not scold them for overreacting, but DO praise them when they’re acting calmly.