As we get closer to Independence Day celebrations across the U.S., it is important to remember most dogs don’t share the same enthusiasm as humans for thunderous fireworks displays. In fact, your normally calm and predictable canine may run for cover or show signs of severe anxiety when firecrackers start going off in the neighborhood. While it’s impossible to prevent your pup from hearing these scary noises, you can help lessen your dog’s fears with these helpful tips:
- Tune in to your dog’s body language. Your dog can hear fireworks that are happening a mile or more away. If your dog is pacing, panting, or keeps coming to you, don’t automatically assume he needs a bathroom break. He may be scared and is looking to you for comfort.
- Check your own body language. If you’re worked up about your dog being worked up, your dog will just get more worked up. Dogs notice our anxieties and emotions and reflect them right back at us.
- Drown out the noise. Sometimes all it takes to calm a fearful dog is to turn up the volume on the TV or play some music to cover the commotion outside.
- Give your dog a safe space. Keep your dog indoors during fireworks and make sure she has access to a covered crate or a cozy closet where she can hide out. If there’s room, join her in her safe spot, pet her gently, and speak to her in a calm, soothing voice.
- Wear your dog out. If you know there will be fireworks on a certain evening, give your dog extra exercise that day. Add a long walk to your routine, play fetch in the yard, or give your pup an intense training session. If he’s all tuckered out when the fireworks are popping, he may just sleep right through the noise.
- Bring your dog some goodies. Stock up on new toys and irresistible treats and use them to distract your dog. An indoor game of tug followed by a tasty treasure hunt will keep her focused on fun while the fireworks are going off outside.
- Think like a dog. Fireworks may trigger a flight response in your dog. If you must open a door during fireworks, restrain him first. If he spends most of his time outdoors, bring him inside for the evening. If he goes everywhere with you, consider his feelings, and leave him home where he feels safe. And no matter where he is, update his microchip information well before the holiday, and make sure his collar has a tag with your phone number clearly printed on it. This is your best chance for being reunited if he does escape.
Happy 4th of July!