Do you have a dog who is scared of fireworks? Is your furry friend prone to running and hiding when noisy holidays roll around? Whether you’re gearing up for New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, or any other holiday on which fireworks are usually enjoyed, you should brush up on some of the best ways to help your dog remain calm throughout the night.
The best way to address these issues/phobias is by using behavior modification techniques. Systemic desensitization and counter conditioning are best, but they need to be started when the stimulus is not likely to occur.
Ways to Help Your Dog When They’re Scare of Fireworks
In this article, we’ll explore six ways you can help a dog who is scared of fireworks. Try one or try them all, but be sure to speak with a veterinarian before giving your dog anything to ingest for calming purposes.
Read on to learn more.
Keep Your Dog in a Quiet, Safe Space
Your dog needs to feel like he is in a peaceful, comfortable place and that he has control. If your dog feels out of control in his location, he will feel worse overall about the fireworks as well. Choose a part of your home where your dog spends much of his time and set him up a small “hub” with a comfortable bed, familiar toys and blankets, food, and water.
If possible, keep the door shut to the part of your home where your dog will be kept during the fireworks. This may help him feel more closed-off from the noise.
Play Music with a Constant Drum Beat
If possible, put on something that makes noise in the room where your dog will be staying during the fireworks. Veterinary behaviorists normally recommend rap or similar music with a constant drum beat.
The aim here is not to turn up the volume so loud that it drowns out the fireworks, but just to make your dog feel at ease with the help of another sound source.
Ask Your Vet About Supplements for Calming
There are some types of supplements that are safe for dogs which may help with calming and relaxation, especially during a time of high anxiety. There are also very safe and effective medications for noise aversion in dogs now, as well.
With any of these possibilities, always speak to your vet first for more information. Your dog may respond well to these types of supplements, but he might have health concerns that make these options more of a risk than a benefit. Never self-medicate with supplements or use oils around your dog without the help of a vet.
Use a Thundershirt
Thundershirts are a type of clothing item designed for dogs. They can be wrapped snugly around the dog’s body and either buckled or closed shut with Velcro. These shirts provide soothing pressure that is not uncomfortable but works much like a weighted anxiety blanket might for humans.
Thundershirts are one name brand option, but other companies provide other solutions with similar designs as well.
Comfort Your Dog, But Don’t Act Nervous Yourself
If possible, stay in the room where your dog will be kept during the fireworks for at least part of the night. You might want to place him in your home office or bedroom so you can spend more time than usual with him.
Make sure not to reassure and pet your dog when they are scared or showing a fear response, as this can reinforce and reward the behavior. You should avoid punishment or reassurance of the fearful response. It is important to provide safe environment, if possible practice training settle and focus and use rewards and toys to distract. Use commands to engage in a positive and distracting way.
Do not, however, act nervous about the fireworks yourself. If someone shoots off fireworks, don’t yell or otherwise verbally respond, and try not to startle. Just act as though everything is normal and safe, and your dog may quickly learn that it is.
Walk Your Dog Before the Fireworks Begin
Your dog will need to go out and potty, but likely won’t want to venture outdoors while the fireworks are still going off. Try to take him out before the sun goes down so you can avoid this possibility. Give him plenty of chances to relieve himself so he won’t have an accident indoors due to being scared of the fireworks.
Make sure to have your dog microchipped and always keep his ID and information on him, too. This way, if he does happen to panic and get away during fireworks, he can be easily tracked down once again.
Speak with a Vet for Help if Your Dog’s Scared of Fireworks
Armed with this information, you and your dog should be ready to deal with the next holiday that involves fireworks. Take time to prepare beforehand so you won’t be rushing to try these options at the last minute, and be sure to stock up on any items you might need ahead of time as well. Your dog will thank you for it!
For any and all questions about how to care for your dog if he’s scared of fireworks, it’s always best to speak to a veterinarian. They’ll be able to offer advice and help you determine the best ways to keep your pet calm. Now that you know some potential ways to help your dog during this time, you’ll be able to discuss them with your veterinarian and come up with the best plan for you and your dog.
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