Is your dog afraid of loud noises? Do fireworks send your dog running to hide? Many dogs will tell you that fireworks and dogs don’t mix.
For people, fireworks are entertaining and fun but for many dogs the loud noises and bright lights are scary. Here are some ways to keep your dog calm during fireworks and thunderstorms.
Fireworks and Dogs
Many years ago I had a dog that was scared of both thunderstorms and fireworks. Any loud bang would send her running for the bathtub. She would hide behind the shower curtain shaking and trembling. I would sit in the bathroom with her until it was quiet.
The dog that I have now is not afraid of thunderstorms, but she is afraid of fireworks. Thunderstorms are different than fireworks. Dogs can sense a thunderstorm coming. With fireworks there is no warning. All of a sudden, bang.
Thunderstorms have warning signs that your dog senses. There are changes in barometric pressure and the winds grow stronger. With fireworks, it begins all of a sudden without warning.
If your dog is afraid of fireworks, you need to remain calm. If you remain calm it will help your dog to remain calm. It is especially important to have your dog in a calm state before the fireworks begin.
There are many CDs that play noises that can help your dog become accustomed to loud noises. Get one that has the noises that your dog is afraid of. Begin by playing it with the volume low. Over several months, slowly increase the volume as your dog acclimates to the noises. Take your time and don’t rush it. It will take some time.
Find out if there are going to be fireworks in your area, find out what time the fireworks will start. You can avoid the fireworks by going to a friend or family member’s home away from the fireworks before they start.
If you can’t leave home with your dog, you will need to prepare before the fireworks begin. Take your dog for a long walk to release energy or you could have a game of fetch instead. You want your dog tired so they will be in a relaxed state.
Be sure to feed your dog before the fireworks begin. Most dogs that are afraid will not eat. Some will not eat until the next day. Try to feed your dog a couple of hours before the fireworks begin.
Some dogs will need a safe place to go to while others will want to sit in your lap. If your dog’s safe place is a crate, use a sheet or blanket to cover the crate to make your dog feel better.
When your dog comes to you for comfort, give them comfort but don’t over do it. If you get excited, your dog will too therefore use a calm voice with slow movements to encourage your dog to remain calm.
Close all of your windows and curtains to block out the lights and activity outside. Turn on some calming music or if you usually watch TV, turn the sound up to reduce some of the noise from the fireworks.
Keep your dog inside during the fireworks. Most dogs that are afraid will run in panic and that could be right out the door or over a fence. If you have an outside dog, bring it inside during the fireworks to keep them safe. Make sure your dog has a collar on with ID tags in case they escape.
Help Your Dog
Give your dog an interactive toy with treats, such as a Kong type toy filled with your dog’s favorite treat. For some dogs, the distraction of trying to get the treats out will help your dog remain in a calm state.
I use a Thundershirt for my dog. I am amazed at how well it works for her as long as she is in a calm state before putting the Thundershirt on. She now remains calm during fireworks. It might work for your dog too.
Signs of Anxiety
Some signs of anxiety in dogs are barking excessively, running, hiding, whining, shaking, panting, pacing, reliving 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.
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.