Is your dog afraid of fireworks? Does he run and hide, shake uncontrollably when he hears the loud boom?
Dogs get confused and scared when they hear the loud noises of fireworks. Many times dogs will try to get away and end up lost. Animal shelters see a huge increase of run away dogs the day after firework displays.
Dogs and fireworks anxiety is a real problem and it’s important for us as dog parents to help our pups through this time of stress.
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Imagine you hear and feel a loud explosion nearby, but you have no idea where they’re coming from. You run outside, check to see if something exploded, but nothing. And there it goes again, the earth shakes, it’s so loud and you can’t figure out what it is…
This is how your dog feels when he hears fireworks. Not only is his hearing much more sensitive than ours, but he has no idea what a firework is and why we would be exploding them.
Recommended reading: My Dog Ran Away! What Should I Do?
Our first foster dog, Silla, was tremendously afraid of thunder and fireworks! The first time we had a thunderstorm during the time we had her, she ran under my desk to hide. She was shaking, pacing from room to room, we felt so sorry for her that we just couldn’t do anything to calm her down. I finally just sat next to her, holding her until the storm passed. I know her adopters tried the ThunderShirt with some success. But every dog is different, so you will have to try different options with your dog to see what he responds to best.
I prefer natural remedies over prescriptions, but depending on your dogs level of firework anxiety, you may want to talk to your vet. Here are the natural options I recommend trying:
Take your dog outside during the day and tire them out, go for a long walk, go to the dog park, whatever it takes to run out the energy.
Don’t leave your dog outside in the backyard unattended. He may dig under the fence or decide to jump the fence to try and get away from the loud fireworks.
Closing the windows not only reduces the noise but to ensure your dog can not escape. I’ve heard several stories of dogs jumping out windows, even with the screens in tact.
Also close the blinds or curtains and keep your lights on inside at night so any bright light explosions aren’t as visible to your dog.
Entertain your dog with a treat such as a peanut butter filled kong or a new chew bone to keep him busy. This also helps desensitize your dog, using positive reinforcement during a time when he is feeling afraid.
Take some time to do some indoor games and training fun.
Make sure your dog has his collar and ID tags on. In the event that your dog does get loose, you want to me sure he can find his way back home. This is an excellent time to get a dog tracker with GPS option!
The ThunderShirt for dogs was created to help our dogs feel more comfortable. I’ve heard stories both of success and failure. Every dog is different, so you will have to try different options with your dog to see what he responses best to.
Consider calming products if your dog’s anxiety over fireworks is minor, essential oils, such as lavender and calming oils can help calm your dog.
There are also calming collars available, which uses pheromone technology. The Pheromone is a scent that a mother dog uses with her puppies, and is said to help dogs with anxiety issues. Adaptil makes several options from collars to sprays, to room diffusers.
Not all people foods are safe for our dogs. Alcohol, chocolate and other foods can be toxic to your dog.
The day after any firework displays, check your yard for any debris. Even if you don’t personally light any fireworks, the residue can end up in your yard from neighbors.
If this is your first 4th of July with your puppy or dog, please be careful. You may think your dog will be okay with the fireworks, but your dog may have a different idea. You don’t want to take the chance of bringing your dog outside to watch the fireworks and then he runs away!
Please do not take your dog to watch the firework display. This is one time of the year I recommend NOT taking your dog for a walk. If you must take your dog outside during the fireworks, use a collar that he can not slip out of. If your dog is scared, he can wiggle and work is way out of a normal flat collar.
And remember, it’s not just the firework display at 9:30 that is going to scare your dog. It’s your neighbors blowing off the unexpected fireworks that will scare your pup too! If your dog does run away, use ourLOST DOG poster template.
You love your dog, he is your family and you'd do anything for him, right? Then you owe it to him to learn his language.
P.S. If you have any great tips that work for you and your dog, please comment below and share so others can help their dogs that have fireworks anxiety.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.