Tips to Keep Pets Calm During Fireworks Season
4th of July means fireworks! The loud booms and bangs are synonymous with America’s celebration of freedom. While we love the colors of professional fireworks and might set some off (safely) at home, your dog might not be as excited. Those sudden loud noises can cause extreme stress in some pets. While this is often seen as barking, trembling or hiding; things like yawning, licking lips and excessive panting are also signs of distress. There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your dog stays safe and as stress-free as possible:
Desensitize Your Dog
- Play recorded sounds of fireworks for your pooch while you are there to comfort them. Include treats, pets and affirmative language. They will learn to associate those noises with positive feelings from you.
- Best for new puppies, recent adoptions or dogs that are extremely fearful.
Create a ‘Safe Den’
- Find a room or create a space where your dog can hide and feel safer. A small, central room with sound blocking is ideal, but creating a space with a crate, blankets and pillows works well, too
- Fill their Den with favorite toys. Puzzle toys or chews can help keep your dog busy and distracted from the noises. A Kong filled with frozen food can keep your pup busy for hours.
Update Collar, Tags, Microchip Info
- More dogs and pets go missing on the 4th of July than any other day, up to a 30% increase!
- Following these tips should prevent your pet from running away, but you want to be prepared just in case. Make sure their tags and collar are on and that all micro-chip information is up to date.
Visit the Vet
- If you have an extremely anxious or new pet, visit your veterinarian and see if medications are a proper solution. They might prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or recommend natural alternatives like calming treats.
On the 4th of July
Exercise Your Pup
- Take your dog for a long walk and get in some good play time so that your dog is tired and more interested in sleep than in the fireworks.
Prep the House
- Make sure all doors and windows are closed and draw the curtains, this will help prevent your pet from escaping as well as minimize the sound inside. Be sure to block cat flaps if you have them and keep kitty inside for the night.
- Provide extra water as nervous doggies pant more and get more thirsty.
- Make sure you feed your dog early, before the noises start, as anxious animals often won’t eat. Plus, a full belly encourages sleep!
- Turn on the TV or radio as a distraction, especially if you won’t be home during the celebrations.
- If you are home with Fido, act normally! They’ll pick up on your behavior and remaining calm will help them stay calm.
- If your dog hides under the bed or behind furniture, try to assure them but do not force them to come out and ‘face their fears.’ They will not understand this and will just get more scared.
- If your dog becomes clingy and wants comfort, give them comfort. You don’t want to punish them for being scared, so do your best to give them attention. If you won’t be home or are hosting a party, keep them in their Safe Den and make sure their water is topped up.
- Reward calm behavior; give treats and extra cuddles when they are being ‘brave’ and subdued. This will reinforce that this time is not so scary and is, in fact, fun!
- If you are going in and out of the house, make sure your pets are kept in a contained area; don’t leave the front or back doors open for any period of time. This will help prevent a scared pup or cat from darting off into the night.
Things You Should Never Do
- Do not bring your pet to the fireworks display, the sound is many times louder and, mixed with a noisy, unpredictable crowd of people, it can be terrifying for your dog.
- Do not tie up your dog outside, especially if you won’t be home. This will only make them feel trapped and increase their anxiety levels as they have no place to run or hide.
- Do not yell at or punish your dog for barking, this will only cause them more distress. Try to calm them with pets and treats, or encourage them to stay in their Safe Den.
Remember, your pets don’t know where the sounds are coming from and their hearing is many times better than ours. Fireworks often go off before and after July 4th, and this year is proving to be louder than most as people take out their quarantine boredom with record sales of fireworks. You know your dog best, so incorporate some or all of the tips above this summer, as needed, to ensure everyone has fun this 4th of July!