What says Happy 4th of July better than fireworks? While enjoyable and entertaining for people, fireworks can send your dog into a scared frenzy. The loud noises and bright flashes of fireworks may alarm your dog, so we have a few great tips to minimize your dog’s anxiety and fear during fireworks celebrations.
Create a safe haven for your dog
Keep your dog inside and make a safe place for him. Remove all objects from the room that could cause harm – some dogs are destructive when frightened. Make sure his go-to hiding spot like under the bed or his kennel is clear and accessible – don’t pull him out if he is hiding. If the fireworks are especially close to your house, take him to a friend’s house where the noise won’t be as loud. Also close all the curtains and blinds to keep out the bright light flashes and decrease the loud booms and make sure all the doors and windows are securely closed and locked. You may also want to put down some training pads in case your dog gets excited and has an accident.
Calm your dog with aromatherapy
There are many calming sprays out there to ease your dog’s stress. If his reaction is severe, talk to your vet for a prescription. Otherwise, try an over-the-counter remedy or an at-home aromatherapy oil spray like lavender. Spray his coat and on a bandana or something that you can tie loosely around his neck. Our Certified Trainer, Jason Jimenez, recommends Bach Rescue® Remedy for Pets.
Exercise your dog
Wear your dog out. Three or four hours before the celebration, take your dog for a long walk, run, or to the dog park. Playing catch is also a great way to exhaust your dog – try it for a half hour or until your dog tires. By releasing energy now, he’ll have less to exert during the fireworks and hopefully be less stressed.
Feed him a big meal
Feed your dog a big meal an hour or two before the celebration. He’ll feel relaxed and content like you do after a big meal.
Massage his nerves away
You know how relaxing massages are for you, so try it on your dog. Have him lie down and gently massage his legs, shoulders, back, neck, and tips of his ears. You can even hold him during the fireworks and pet him to reduce anxiety.
Cuddle his fears away
During (if you are staying inside) and after the fireworks, it’s important to spend quality time with your dog. This will calm him down and ensure him that everything is ok and the fireworks are over.
Provide some distractions
Try keeping your dog’s focus away from the fireworks by cuddling or playing. You can also give him a toy like a frozen treat or a rawhide to divert his attention. Try turning on the radio or the television to block out some of the fireworks noises and cheering.
Make sure your dog has proper ID
If you do take your dog to the fireworks (which isn’t recommended) make sure he is micro-chipped and wearing an ID collar. Your dog may get scared and bolt. Always keep your dog on a leash and keep him far away from where the fireworks are being set off.