With so many dogs terrified of fireworks, 4th of July can be a frightening time for pups everywhere. In fact, July 5th is often the busiest day of the year at animal shelters, as pets run off from home in fear, found lost and confused the next day.
Begin by getting your dog accustomed to the sound of fireworks – this video on YouTube is a great starting point!
As the fireworks sounds/video is going, play with your pup! Break out toys and treats to get your dog to begin associating firework sounds with good, fun things!
Some dogs will feel comforted by having their own safe space to hide when frightening fireworks go off. Consider purchasing a crate (we have a list of the best crates for separation anxiety – these will serve as great comfort crates for other stressors as well).
Add some cozy blankets, a crate bed, and a few favorite toys to make a true comfort den for your nervous canine.
Give your dog something better to do than worry! Give him a good chew to chomp on or a dog puzzle toy to keep him occupied. Another popular dog distraction strategy is to fill a Kong with tasty wet food and freeze it – your pooch will spend the next few hours licking away at it.
Some ultra-terrified dogs may not be interested in eating when they are so scared, but others may be on board. If you begin this practice with your puppy, it will further reinforce that fireworks = fun!
It’s not uncommon for dogs to escape and bolt during fireworks out of fear. In fact, July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters, as they spend most of the day making phone calls and trying to reunite missing pets with their frantic owners.
Make sure your dog has a properly fitting collar and ID tags with contact info, just in case he takes off. It’s also smart to have recent photos of your dog on hand to send to shelters so they can keep an eye out for your pooch.
If you know your dog is especially prone to taking off at the sound of firecrackers, consider getting your pooch geared up with a dog GPS tracker so you can locate them once things have calmed down.
Earlier in the day, try to take your pooch for a good long walk to tire him out. As the saying goes – “a tired dog is a happy dog.” Tuckering your pooch out can reduce his anxiety and may prevent him from getting overly anxious later in the evening when the fireworks go off.
Just make sure to adhere to basic summer safety guidelines when it comes to exercising in the heat. We recommend a nice long walk in the AM!
Many owners swear by the power of the Thundershirt – a wraparound vest your dog wears that is said to instantly calm them down through the use of gentle pressure.
Grab the official Thundershirt, or try making your own DIY version using a scarf or ace bandage.
While we mentioned playing firework sounds to desensitize your pet early on, it’s also not a bad idea to keep the radio or TV on if you plan on being out during the fireworks. Other sounds may distract your pet from the booming firework noises.
Close the windows and curtains during fireworks to minimize sound and keep your dog feeling safe. If you have any areas of your home that tend to be more sound-proof than others, opt for those sound-dampening areas to alleviate your pup’s anxiety.
If you have a basement, taking your dog down there can help reduce noise. Throw in some laundry and put on some music to drown out any firework noise.
For some dogs, medicine might be the best way to go. See our list of the best anti-anxiety medicine for dogs, including calming treats and other over-the-counter options you can order online, as well as medications that would require a veterinarian’s prescription.
One owner notes that a few drops of Frankincense essential oil placed along the back of their dog’s neck helped keep him calm during the 4th!
Other popular anxiety-reducing medicines include Zesty Paws Calming Chews – which are natural dog treats formulated with L-Theanine to promote canine relaxation – and Rescue Remedy, which is a liquid formula of natural stress-relieving remedies that can be added to your pup’s food.
Obviously, this one isn’t for everyone, but ultimately it’ll be best if you can stay home with your four-footer during 4th of July fireworks. They’ll feel much happier and safer with you by their side!
If you can’t be home for the 4th, consider grabbing a Furbo Dog Camera that will let you monitor your pooch’s progress remotely. Plus, with Furbo, you can dispense dog treats from the camera to distract and encourage your pup when things get scary!
Here’s a snapshot of some of the essential stress-reducers we suggest taking advantage of to calm your pooch during the 4th!
We’ve created this handy infographic to help owners keep their dogs safe during 4th of July fireworks (these tips apply to New Years fireworks and any other situations involving fireworks as well).
Share this infographic to spread the word and keep canines safe this 4th!
Do you have any other tips for keeping dogs calm during fireworks? Share your advice in the comments!
Meg Marrs is the Founder and Senior Editor at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!