Dogs are amazing creatures, and we love them so much. On first sight, they may not give you such an impression – but they’re very sensitive creatures that require attention and care. Keeping a dog as a pet comes with many benefits, including healthy ones. However, for many dog owners – there’s nothing worse than seeing their dog stressed out, trembling with fear and anxiety.
Fireworks are one of those pain points for dogs, often creating panic, anxiety and inducing heavy stress to almost every pet.
But why is this the case?
Well, there are many reasons why dogs happen to be afraid of fireworks, thunderstorms and other noisy events. It’s actually very natural behavior – heavy sounds trigger dogs’ nervous system, causing them to become anxious which leads to panic. These events often come out of nowhere and catch dogs off guard, leaving them in states of shock and confusion. However, compared to natural sounds, fireworks have an even stronger effect on dogs.
Firework experience is a lot different since it’s so close to the ground, it creates very intense noise for your dog. On top of that, fireworks also cause a lot of flashy lights, sudden loud explosions, and burning smell. Dogs are creatures that rely heavily on their senses, so when you combine these three factors: sound, light & smell – it’s no wonder your dog gets so scared and panicky.
Besides being a very stressful experience for the dog, it causes stress to pet owners as well. It’s easy to get stressed, sad and panicky when you see your dog shake & tremble in fear. But…
It’s not all dark and gloomy.
There are many ways to help your dogs during these shocking events, and we’re here to take a look at some of them. With these tips, your dogs will no longer have to suffer through enormous stress, and you as an owner will have a much easier time as well. Let’s take a look at them:
1. Prepare Yourself For The Situation
Preparation is the key to solving any problem. Before you attempt to do anything, you first need to get familiar with the situation (by reading this article for example). When you know how your dog reacts and how you can help him, it simply comes down to execution. The most important thing to remember is to never panic as a dog owner. If you take it easy, your dog will sense that energy, and it’ll be easier to help him. Dogs are creatures reliant on energy, so keep that in mind as you try to guide your pet through the situation.
2. Never Leave Your Dog Alone
During fireworks, make sure you never leave your dog alone. Many owners simply tie their dog and leave them on their own, but… this is a horrible idea for many reasons. When your dog is panicking, he’s going to look at you for guidance, and if you aren’t there, it’s just going to make it way worse for him. Being with your dog during such a stressful experience is the first key to making it easier for him. Just by being there, your dog will be much calmer and better receptive to the stress.
3. Get Your Dog Used To Loud Sounds
Dog owners report that dogs who were exposed to loud noises as infants often grow up to be tolerant of such noises as they age. They get familiar with the experience, learning that it won’t harm them. However, this principle also works on adult pets – if you get them used to these sounds, they will be less afraid of them. The best thing you can do is to take a few months prior to the firework events (New Years, 4th of July, or any other event) to train & familiarize your pet with such noises. You can start by showing them firework videos, gradually increasing the sound as your pet gets more comfortable. Once the real fireworks start, your dog will already be familiar with the experience – making him less panicky.
Sound therapy has been proved to work time and time again, and you should definitely give it a shot if you want your dog to feel calm and safe.
4. Keep Your Dog Inside
This is possibly the best solution when dealing with this problem. By keeping your dog inside, the firework noises will be much less threatening, and your dog will feel way more comfortable. If you do this, make sure you’re also in the house with your dog at the same time. If you’re out at an event, you can look for some shelters like shops and stores until the fireworks pass. Either way, make sure you have a place to keep your dog inside, and it will make this experience much easier.
5. Provide Your Dog With a Hiding Spot
Now that your dog is inside the house, you can take some additional measures to keep him safe and calm. Dogs are known to scatter around the house during fireworks, looking for a safe place to hide. It’s just their natural instinct to hide from threatening events. Even if you’re out there with your dog, inside the house – he may still panic and throw tantrums when the fireworks go off. Since he will try to find shelter, it’s a good idea to provide him with a box, crate or any sort of tense space where your dog can feel safe and protected. Dogs often appreciate having hiding spots, as it makes them feel more safe and comfortable. Additionally, you can provide him with some of your clothes – familiar scent will provide additional comfort and reduce anxiety.
6. Keep The Curtains & Windows Closed
If you’re inside of your home, this method will do wonders to ease the experience. You should keep all of your windows closed, with curtains on. Doing this will not only lower the noise, but it will also help with the other two things that we mentioned – visual & smell. With curtains closed, your dog won’t be exposed to flashy lights that cause stress and anxiety and with windows closed – the smell of fireworks burning will be kept away. This will make the experience a lot easier, and your dog will be able to feel comfortable when these factors are gone. There are a few additional things you can combine with this, so let’s keep going.
7. Cook Some Lovely Food
Yeah, who would’ve guessed that cooking could make such stressful situation easier?!
There are multiple reasons why cooking helps in this situation. First off, dogs love the smell of good food! Try cooking some chicken breasts and see what happens – they get all excited and jiggly. They’re also used to associating this smell with positive situations, which also helps to keep them calm and happy. Your dog will be loving that smell and enjoying himself as it keeps building up. When you have your food ready, wait for the fireworks to start before you start giving it to your dog. You can also play with him a little bit, make it a little harder for him by hiding the food so he can search for it. All in one, cook some tasty food – and have fun with your dog! Your pet will enjoy the experience, and it’ll keep his mind away from the noisy fireworks.
8. Play Some Music / Turn Up The TV
Most dogs love music! They’re used to hearing it and most importantly – they like seeing their owners happy when music is playing. Dogs associate music with good feelings and happy times, and that’s a good thing. During fireworks, try to play some entertaining, calming music with loud sounds and see how your dog reacts to it. Usually, it’s going to make him feel way better. On top of that, loud music helps to distract him from the loud noise of fireworks, so that’s a plus.
Also, you can turn up the TV if you’re enjoying a nice movie or a show as this will also help to reduce that loud firework sound and make your pet feel safe.
9. Give Your Dog Some Heavy Exercise / Play Before Fireworks
This method has been proven to work time and time again, and it’s easy to understand why. All you have to do is go out there during the day and have some fun time with your dog. You can have a long walk or some playful activity where your dog can use up his stored energy. Dogs go crazy when it’s a fun time, and they will do their best to spend as much energy as possible to have the most fun. After this, they will usually feel very relaxed and calm. But most importantly – they will be tired! His guard will be down since he’s in that calm state of bliss after having such a great time.
The reason most pets go into a frenzy when fireworks go off is that they have a lot of excess energy left in store. This makes them go off the hook, and they’re prone to have anxiety attacks. On top of all that, you should know that dogs consider it a leisure time when the play is over, so they will be less likely to panic & get stressed out.
10. Don’t Tie Your Dog
Even though it might seem like a good solution (since they’re panicking and throwing tantrums) – you should not tie and restrict your dog of movement when he’s stressed. Loud fireworks will make his alarms go off, but if your dog is tied in one place, that alone will make him much more stressed. Dogs will be very nervous when they’re tied, as they feel like they can’t do anything about the situation. Instead, let your dog roam around and look for shelter himself, it will make him busy, and he will often find a good hiding spot as well so it’s basically a win/win situation.
11. Try Using Anxiety Vests / Wraps / Thundershirts
Anxiety vests, thundershirts or whatever you’d like to call them are known to help dogs calm down. They’re often used while traveling or during thunderstorms, but they can be very useful with fireworks as well. These anxiety are believed to work in a way that helps your dog feel comfortable and calm. They apply pressure to the dog’s body, causing him to feel like an infant baby being swaddled in warm clothes.
They will make your dog comfortable by putting him in a calmer state. On top of that, these vests often reduce a dog’s ability to breath heavily – which is associated with stressful situations since it releases a lot of exciting hormones.
12. Try Using Medication
Medication, often sedatives, are known to help dogs calm down during stressful times. They’re often used to cure separation anxiety, but the same effect can be applied to any stressful situation. During fireworks, sedatives can help your dog feel calmer and more relaxed. They will keep his hormones in check, allowing him to relax and enjoy the moment.
Sedatives help to reduce that “flight response” that dogs have when fireworks go off, but it also helps them with anxiety & panic attacks. It is a very safe and effective way to help your dog stay calm and enjoy the experience.
Before using any medication, make sure you consult with veterinarians first to make sure everything goes as planned.
13. Make Sure Your Dog Is Wearing Tag
During fireworks, dogs are known to bolt out and become Houdini’s – disappearing on first sight. In case this happens, you want to make sure your dog stays safe and recognizable. Losing your dog is a terrible thing, but it’s even worse if he doesn’t have his tag on. To keep him extra safe, make sure he wears his tag, and in case he gets lost – it’ll be far easier to retrieve him.
14. Remember To Keep Calm
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, your behavior is the most important factor in these situations. Dogs feel safe and comfortable only when their owners feel the same way. It can be a bit difficult to keep your calm when your dog is panicking and stressing out, but you have to train yourself to do it.
Staying calm will help you think in order to come up with better solutions, but most importantly – it will make your pet will better as well. Take care of yourself first, then go ahead and help your dog in the best way you can.
For dog owners, fireworks are one of the most challenging events to deal with, but it doesn’t have to be like that. By following these tips, you already made the situation far easier for yourself. Prevention is the best cure, so make sure you remember all of these steps when tough times come around, good luck!