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Helping your Dog Cope with Fireworks

Updated: Jun 14, 2021


Independence Day is right around the corner. Soon, people will be lighting firecrackers and other forms of 4th of July noisemakers (or it is already happening if you live in my neighborhood!). Many of us grew up loving fireworks and still enjoy a well-put-together display of dazzling brilliance. However, while we may like or at least tolerate the pops, cracks, and bangs that go with this holiday, our pets usually find the whole experience terrifying.

When I used to work at the Longmont Humane Society in Colorado, we were always prepared for an influx of stray pets around the 4th of July. Without fail, we got cases where people went to go watch fireworks, and either brought their dog with them and the dog got away from the owner, or the owner didn't secure the dog at home and the dog broke out of their home and yards because they were scared of the fireworks. And this is not just a CO phenomenon. According to the San Jose Mercury News, “In the days just after July 4, 2013, 24 dogs were brought to the humane society in Milpitas as strays--a 140 percent increase over the average weekly intake of 10 dogs.” Keep in mind that fireworks can be incredibly upsetting for dogs, so make sure you are prepared for a potentially frightened pooch. 

How to help your dog cope with Fireworks

  • Many dogs will hide when they hear fireworks, so make sure they have a place where they can go and feel safe. I highly recommend crate training for all dogs in general, and for crate-trained dogs, their crate will be a haven for them when scared. Make sure their crate is accessible during noisy times, even if they do not use it on a regular basis.

  • If your dog is very scared by fireworks, I would strongly recommend trying a Thundershirt. Thundershirts are body wraps that work by applying constant, gentle pressure to the dog (or other pets!), which has been shown to “have a dramatic calming effect for over 80% of dogs.”

  • Another product that I would strongly recommend is a calming CD called “Through a Dog’s Ear.” This is music that has been scientifically arranged and recorded to specifically help calm your dog. I have used this music in the past and have absolutely seen a positive effect on the dogs who could hear it!

  • There are a variety of pheromone products on the market and I recommend giving Adaptil Calm a try for an anxious dog. Adaptil Calm is a drug-free, odorless vapor that mimics a dog’s natural, soothing pheromones. I have seen this have positive impacts on stressed dogs in the past, so it is certainly worth trying out.

  • Another item to file under “can’t hurt, might help” is Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is a combination of 5 Bach Flower Remedies to help your pet deal with stressful situations without drugs. It can be given orally, in water or food, or it can be applied directly to the gums, ears or paw pads.

If your dog has shown fear in regards to fireworks in the past, be proactive this year and try to make the holiday a little less stressful by employing some or all of these practices. If you know that your dog gets over-the-top stressed, consider talking to your vet about prescription medications that might better help your dog cope with the holiday. 

 

Tracey Lee Davis is a former CPDT-KA, a graduate with honors of the Academy for Dog Trainers, and a Certified Kennel Operator. For close to a decade, she ran one of the most well-respected dog daycares in the Silicon Valley. She is passionate about helping dogs and their humans lead happy and fun lives together.


Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you! ♥

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