Does your dog have a ruff ruff time with fireworks?
You’re certainly not alone. While some dogs have no problems at all with fireworks, most dogs have some kind of reaction, and some can have extreme reactions. Us humans don’t hear (or smell) nearly as well as our furry friends. They have incredible ears! So imagine what fireworks sound like to them.
While thunderstorms can induce a similar reaction, the changes in temperature and barometric pressure are enough warning signs for your dog. Fireworks only happen a couple times per year, are very loud and occur without warning. And many times, we aren’t home to let our dogs know that it’s all okay.
As a responsible dog owner, find out when displays will happen in your area and follow our tips to help your dog stay calm!
1. Know that the response is normal.
The LOUD and sudden sound of fireworks can trigger a flight response that we have a hard time understanding because we have essentially grown up hearing fireworks. To us, they represent good ol’ family fun! To your dog, it represents danger, and in their minds they have to run away from it.
2. Act and behave like you normally would.
Your dog will look for behavioral cues from you, so try your best to act like you always do. This will help your dog to stay calm.
3. Expend energy before the fireworks start!
Try taking them for a loooong walk, jog or swim the day of the fireworks. If they have expended enough energy, the flight response won’t be as strong.
4. Give them a safe place.
If your dog is crate-trained, then he may feel safest in his crate with a nice chew toy. If he’s not crate-trained, try putting his bed in a calm place (maybe your bedroom) the he associates with sleep or down time. Remember to close the blinds and windows to minimize the sounds and flashing lights.
5. Keep your animals inside if you can.
The noise levels will be much lower in your house. If they have to say outside, be sure they are safely in your fence with a collar to identify them if they happen to get out. They have a tendency to escape and run away when the emotional response takes over.
6. You can lower your dog’s sensitivity to fireworks by starting early.
Try playing a recording of fireworks softly for a few minutes at a time and gradually make the sounds louder. This may take a few weeks to a few months.
7. Stay calm and comfort your dog while the fireworks are going on.
If you don’t have a few weeks or months to desensitize your dog, try these tactics for helping your dog through the fireworks:
- Give them a chew toy.
- Read to them.
- Play calming music.
- Comfort them by giving them love!
- If you know that your dog may need some extra help staying calm, consider a thundershirt or medication if absolutely necessary. Give medication only if you have approval from your vet.
Remember that not all dogs will have problems when fireworks occur. You know your dog better than anyone else. Plan to make your dog as comfortable as possible by following our tips this July 4th and have FUN!