True dog lovers know that their dogs will stick with them no matter what. There are some human celebrations, however, that not only are uncomfortable for your dog but could even be terrifying. Think of fireworks on the Fourth of July or New Year’s Day. Most dogs are afraid of fireworks. On those occasions, most dogs will cower nervously, shake uncontrollably, or even run away.
Even when you think all is quiet, a dog’s ears are so sensitive that it can pick up the soft footfall of a mouse 30 feet away. Imagine what it must be like when fireworks are exploding all around them.
Use these seven dog fireworks fear remedies to help your dog survive those noisy nights.
Bring your dog inside
Before the fireworks begin, bring your dog inside and away from all the noise and activity. Place them in a room far away from the excitement. Turn on a radio or television so that they can pick up other more subtle sounds that will distract them from all the noise that is going on outside.
Tire out your dog
Take your dog for a long walk so that he is tired and relaxed before the noise begins. When he is satisfied, he is less likely to get agitated when everything starts. You can also play a game of fetch or tug, giving him rewards for focusing his attention on you. Don’t wait for the fireworks to begin before you soothe him. Instead, make sure he understands that you will reward him for staying calm.
Create a haven
Put your dog in a room that will muffle loud sounds. Close the doors and windows and draw the curtains. If he has a crate, have it nearby with the door open. Give him his favorite toy or something you know he enjoys. Chew toys work well, especially if you stuff them with something you know he will want to work at retrieving. You also can use puzzle toys. Keep him occupied during the celebration.
Soothe your dog
Some dogs are sensitive to loud noises. If your dog fears thunderstorms, he’s also likely to fear fireworks. If you have a routine or use products to help soothe your dog during storms, use them for fireworks. Some options include using a Thundershirt or calming treats.
More dogs disappear during the Fourth of July celebrations than at any other time of the year. Dogs may run to get away from sudden, loud noises. Make sure your dog has an identification tag and a microchip. Be sure to keep your contact information updated. To prevent escape, never leave your dog unattended. If you won’t be around, find a trustworthy dog sitter or put them in a kennel where they will be safe and secure for the night.
Many dogs take their cues from their owners. If you maintain a calm demeanor during the fireworks, your dog will likely be just as relaxed. However, if you are excited, shouting, and making noise as well, your dog is more likely to become even more agitated. So, be prepared to spend a little quiet time at home, offering soothing comfort when the noise begins.
Avoid rewarding nervous behavior
When your dog is afraid, they will look to you as their pack leader for comfort. Patting them and offering a cuddle may work best for humans, but it will only make matters worse for dogs. When they come to you, give them a gentle nudge away from you and then ignore them until they calm down. In time, they will understand from your cues that there is nothing to worry about and will begin to relax, especially when they see that you are also relaxed.
Keep in mind that whatever method you choose to help your dog to relax, it will take twice as long if you wait until after they have become agitated. Be prepared and help your dog before the noise if you want to get the best results.