Does your dog tremble and shake at loud noises? At the sound of “bang”, is your dog running to hide? Many dogs say that dogs and fireworks don’t mix.
People find fireworks entertaining and fun to look at but many dogs find that the bright lights and loud noises are very scary. Keep reading to find ways to keep your dog calm during fireworks and thunderstorms.
Dogs and Fireworks
A long time ago I had a dog, Sassy, that was afraid of both fireworks and thunderstorms. A loud noise would send her running ….. to the bathtub. She would jump in and hide behind the shower curtain. I would sit in the bathroom with her until the thunderstorm was gone.
The dog that I have now, Freckles, is not afraid of thunderstorms. She can sense they are coming and she knows what to expect. Thunderstorms are different than fireworks. With fireworks, she gets no warning. All of a sudden there’s a loud bang.
Thunderstorms give warning signs that your dog can sense, such as strong winds and changes in the barometric pressure. With fireworks there are no warning signs.
You need to remain calm to help your dog keep calm. If you are upset or excited, your dog will sense that. It is important for your dog to be in a calm state before the fireworks begin.
There are CDs that play noises to help your dog become accustomed to loud noises. You can get one and begin playing it with the volume low. Over time, you can slowly increase the volume. Don’t rush. It will take time.
Do some investigating and find out if there are going to be fireworks in your area and if so, what time they will start. Plan a trip or a visit to a friend or family member’s home, away from the fireworks and avoid the fireworks altogether!
If you can’t leave home, you can prepare before the fireworks begin. Take your dog on a long walk before the fireworks begin, to release energy. A tired dog is a relaxed dog.
Several hours before the fireworks begin, you should feed your dog. Dogs that are afraid will not eat and some will not eat until the next day after the noises end.
Some dogs like to have a safe place to go while others may lay in your lap. If your dog’s safe place is a crate, you may want to use a sheet or blanket to cover the crate and block out the lights.
If your dog comes to you, give them comfort but don’t over do it. Stay calm and use a calm voice along with slow movements to help keep your dog to remain calm.
If your dog has to go outside to relieve themselves during the fireworks, use a 6 foot leash to keep your dog close to you in case they try to run.
Block out the lights and block out some sounds by closing all of your windows and window coverings. If you usually watch TV in the evenings, turn the sound up to reduce the noise outside or play some calming music.
During the fireworks, keep your dog inside. Most dogs that are scared will run in panic, right out the door or over a fence. If you have an outside dog, bring it inside to keep them safe. Make sure your dog has a collar on with ID tags just in case they escape.
Help Your Dog
Keep your dog busy with interactive toys, such as a Kong type toy filled with your dog’s favorite treat or a small ball thrower for inside. For some dogs, the distraction of the interactive toys and treats will help them remain in a calm state.
I use a Thundershirt for my dog, Freckles, during fireworks. It works well for her and helps her remain calm as long as she is calm before putting the Thundershirt on. Now she remains calm during fireworks.
Host a Dog Party
Have a dog party with a few close friends or family members with dogs that get along and have fun together. Gather at a home where the fireworks won’t be seen or heard. Plan some indoor activities for your friends and the dogs and enjoy the evening together!
Signs of Anxiety
Watch for signs of anxiety in your dog such as barking excessively, running, hiding, whining, shaking, panting, pacing, relieving themselves inside, clinging, and not eating. Any of these signs could mean your dog is suffering from anxiety.
You may need to see your veterinarian or a dog behavioral specialist, depending on your dog and it’s history. Many dogs that have been abused need specialized help to overcome their fears.
Prepare for the evening with your dog and both of you will have an enjoyable time in a calm and relaxing manner. Click here to find more tips on spending holidays with your dog.
Does your dog have anxiety during fireworks? Feel free to leave a comment or share a story. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.