On the Fourth of July my neighborhood is an unrelenting bombardment of non-stop fireworks. This generally starts around the dinner hour and continues well into the wee hours of the next morning. For the duration, there is barely a moment of silence. My neighbors, left and right, front and back, along with their neighbors are involved in the Independence Day activity. The noise is overwhelming, and the cloud of acrid smoke permeates the air.
For many people, fireworks are a fun way to celebrate holidays like July fourth, Independence Day. But for many dogs, the loud booms and flashing lights and the acrid smell of smoke is a very scary and out right panic provoking situation they must endure. The noise, flashes of light, as well as the overhead rockets and canopies, and unpredictability of fireworks can leads many dogs to feel threatened. This can triggers a dog’s fight-or-flight response. Frightened dogs may bark at the noises or try to run away and hide. They may show other signs of anxiety, like restlessness, panting, pacing and whining, and even try to escape their home or yard in a means of trying to find safety.
More dogs run away and go missing on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. So it’s crucial that dog owners plan ahead and take precautions to keep our dogs physically and emotionally safe when fireworks are present, whether is sigh or sound.
So how do we keep our dogs feeling safe and secure during fireworks?
- First off, keep your dog away from Fireworks. Don’t take your dog to fireworks shows. And don’t have them out with you if you are engaged in fireworks activities.
- Be sure that your dog has proper identification on them. A collar with a tag that has your phone number on it is a good idea. Also, if your dog has not been microchipped yet, this offers a sure way to know your dog can be identified if he/she gets lost.
- Keep your dog in the house. Create a safe place for your dog. A quiet area such as an inner room, or a basement may work well. Be sure to get your dog use to being in this area before the fireworks start. Create white noise. This can be done with a good quality white noise machine, or by placing floor or table fans so that they are pushing the air back towards the doors and windows. Close curtains or blinds. Turn on a relaxing talk radio station or the TV.
- Walk your dog before the fireworks activities start. Make sure that they have had the opportunity to eliminate. Be sure your dog is wearing a proper fitting collar or harness that cannot slip off.
- If your dog is truly terrified by fireworks consider talking with your veterinarian about medication that can help sooth your dog’s fears and anxiety.
- Several products have been shown to help relieve anxiety in many dogs. The Thundrshirt is a light weight snuggly fitting “coat” that can be used to help dog’s with their fear or fireworks, thunder and other loud noises, as well as other anxieties. The Calming Cap reduces visual stimuli and helps dogs to remain comfortable, overcome fearfulness and increase their confidence. The single-panel sheet fabric window does not blind dogs, but simply filters their view. This product has been shown to be helpful in helping relieve general fear and anxiety in dogs.
- Talk with an educated and qualified training who is well versed in the methods of counter conditioning and systematic desensitization. These well proven methods can help your dog to overcome their fear of fireworks, and feel safe and comfortable come next year’s festivities.