It’s summer, which means plenty of time spent outdoors with family, friends, and—of course—your dog! But patriotic holidays, festivals, and other events also guarantee fireworks, and that could mean a bad night for your furry friend. Although not all dogs are frightened of fireworks, more pets go missing around the Fourth of July than at any other time of year.
In advance of those firework shows, we’re going over how to calm a dog that is afraid of fireworks and breaking down exactly what it is about those loud, colorful explosions that stress our canine companions out. Armed with some tips for managing your dog’s anxiety, you’ll be better prepared to address those unpleasant situations when they arise and keep your dog safe and happy by your side.
Why Is My Dog Afraid of Fireworks?
We all know when the Fourth of July is coming up, but your dog can’t simply look at a calendar and know to expect a night of fireworks. To her, those explosions are sudden, loud, and a potential threat. Her ears are also much more sensitive than yours—neighbors lighting off firecrackers next door might sound innocent enough to you, but those pops and cracks can trigger your dog’s fight-or-flight response. And unfortunately, there really isn’t anywhere your dog can run to escape the loud noises. This nervousness can manifest in barking, pacing, whining, and other behaviors.
How Can I Help My Dog Stay Calm?
Short of fleeing into the wilderness with your pup or soundproofing an entire room of your home, there isn’t really a way to completely avoid the sounds of fireworks during the summer. But there are a few things you can do to lessen their effect on your pup.
Consult Your Vet
As with any situation involving your dog becoming distressed, check in with your vet to determine whether your dog’s anxiety and fear are normal responses or signs of an underlying issue. Your vet may be able to offer additional recommendations for keeping your dog calm and happy in the face of fireworks, such as medication, behavioral training, or even introducing a supplement. Wapiti Labs’ GI Tract, for example, can help to soothe the GI tract if your dog experiences an upset stomach when stressed.
If you have advance warning of a fireworks show near your home or know that your neighbors will be setting them off, nix the evening walk and instead take a nice long stroll during the daytime. Allow your dog to go to the bathroom before the fireworks begin, and then keep him inside as much as possible until the colorful explosions are finished. Your dog may still be frightened, but the experience will be much easier for him if he’s with you and in a familiar place, rather than outdoors, feeling unsafe and vulnerable.
Keeping your dog contained in your home will also prevent him from panicking, running away from you, and getting lost. Make sure to have his favorite spot accessible, whether that be his kennel or underneath your feet at the table.
Try an Anxiety Wrap
Before the fireworks start going off, outfit your dog with an anxiety wrap or vest (some popular brands are Thundershirt and The Anxiety Wrap). These tight jackets are meant to apply calming pressure that makes dogs feel safe and secure, almost like swaddling an infant or giving a friend a comforting hug. Some pet owners say they noticed an immediate effect, while others noted that it didn’t help their particular pets. If you do find a vest that works for your dog, you may be able to use it during other stressful situations as well, such as thunderstorms or road trips!
Drown Out the Noise
The fireworks show might be at a park miles away or in the street right outside your home. Either way, take some steps to drown out the frightening noise of explosions so that your dog can stay calm. Close your windows and any doors to the room you and your dog are in, then play soothing music or flick on the television for an extra buffer of sound.
Create a Distraction with a Toy
The best thing you can do for your anxious pup is to be there for him while the fireworks are going on. While spending time with him, try distracting him from the noise with a special toy. Throw him a treat every now and then as well, or introduce a puzzle toy that can keep him occupied and focused on something other than the loud, scary noises overhead.
Happy Fourth of July from Wapiti
We hope that these tips will help you and your dog have a happy, safe Fourth of July and enjoy the rest of the summer! If you’re looking for a way to support your pup’s health and happiness year-round, consult your vet to determine whether or not a pet supplement could provide your dog with a needed boost. Our supplements are made with natural ingredients like elk velvet antler and ginseng, specially formulated to provide a whole range of supportive benefits. Let us know if you have any questions!