Something you find enjoyable can cause your dog to freak out. Is it the noise, the smell, or the flashing lights that get dogs extremely agitated and stressed when there are fireworks? Do you always struggle to keep your dog calm and comforted? What can you do to keep your dog from getting upset and terrified during fireworks?
Stay at Home
As much as possible, stay at home and close to your dog during fireworks. Of course, this would mean that you would be missing out on a spectacular lights show; but if your pet becomes severely distressed during fireworks, and especially if he’s still a pup, you need to lie down with your dog to keep him calm and give him comfort.
Just having your arm draped on his back or cuddling your small dog in your arms can be enough to soothe him. You can also do long, slow, and firm strokes from the top of his head to his rump. It’s important that you also stay calm. If you attempt to calm him down with a frantic and high-pitched voice, you will only make him even more agitated as he will sense and mirror your alarm.
Tire Out Your Dog
Take your dog out for a walk or a run hours before the fireworks start. Tire him out so that he’ll be less agitated once the fireworks start and especially if you’ll be leaving him indoors on his own.
Help Your Dog Feel Safe and Comforted
Dogs are den animals - this means that they naturally seek out and escape to their “safe place,” or their home/territory/personal space, when there’s a perceived threat. If your dog is triggered by fireworks and becomes extremely distressed, make sure that he has a calming environment or area that he can retreat to.
His safe place should be as far away from any windows as possible; any area in your house where the noise of the fireworks will be muffled and where he won’t be able to see the lights is ideal. It can be a large closet, your basement, or the space under the couch. You can use a crate or box lined with a thick blanket or your dog’s bed; you can also place his cage inside the safe place. Don’t forget to include your dog’s favorite chew toys and some treats to keep him distracted and happy. Frozen bone broth cubes are a great way to keep your pet busy and satisfied.
You can also try covering your furry pal with a heavy blanket if he prefers lying down when the fireworks start; or place him inside his cage and cover it with a thick cloth to help muffle the noise.
Play a Soothing Background Noise
Find the classical music called, “Through a Dog’s Ear,” and play it to your dog. It has been shown to help calm agitated dogs. Alternatively, you can leave the TV or your music player on to help cover up the bangs and whistles of fireworks. If your best bud normally becomes agitated by fireworks, start looking for the kind of music that can help soothe him.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Always Wearing His Collar ID
Some dogs have a tendency to run away when they get scared of fireworks. Despite all your precautions, your best bud may still find a way out of the house if he’s left unattended during fireworks so it’s important that the information on his collar is always kept up-to-date. You should also consider having him microchipped so you can easily track him if he does escape.
Keep Fido Away from Fireworks
If you and your family are going to a fireworks show, keep your dog at home. If there are fireworks outside close enough to freak out your pet, make sure he’s inside, preferably in his cage or in your bedroom if he’s alone or cuddling with you on the couch.
Condition Your Dog
You can try getting Fido used to the sound of fireworks by playing muted sounds for him. After a few sound sessions, you can start playing a fireworks show on TV, again with the volume at a low to moderate level. Give him a few of his favorite treats while the two of you watch the fireworks together. It’s better if you stay close to him while you’re helping him become familiar with noise and lights spectacle so that he’ll learn to associate it with a comforting experience with his human.
If Fido shows signs of stress such as pacing, panting, or hiding, you may be playing the sounds too loudly for him. Do not overwhelm his senses, as this will only make him want to escape.
If fireworks, thunderstorms, and other similar triggers cause him so much distress and no solution has worked for you, you should consider hiring a trainer or behavioral consultant.
Dogs and Fireworks - Final Thoughts
Pups, small dogs, and elderly dogs are typically prone to anxiety and agitation during fireworks. If you have a pup, now’s the best time to train him to stay calm in the midst of the noise and lights.
As much as possible, provide your dog with physical comfort; staying close to your canine companion is always best, or you can also create a safe haven for him or provide him with distractions if you have to leave him alone.
Do not minimize your dog’s distress. Figure out a solution that works well for your pet, especially if you can’t be physically close to him once the show starts.