Oh the 4th of July. It’s always a hubbub of summer activities: barbecues, parades, and most of all, firework displays. But while humans may enjoy celebrating our nation’s birthday with fiery bursts of glory in the sky, our furry friends are less than pleased. In fact, many dogs feel stressed and anxious when it comes to fireworks.
Additionally, from July 4th-July 6th, the number of lost pets jumps up 30%, and it’s mainly because the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks often send panicked pups into flight mode. So, it’s definitely important to keep an eye on your pooch throughout the fun of the 4th! Here’s what you need to know about how to get your pup through the firework barrage during July.
First, why are dogs afraid of fireworks?
Though we humans have grown to expect fireworks around the 4th of July, dogs are often startled by the experience. Dogs’ acute hearing means they are a lot more sensitive to sound than we are. This, mixed with flashes of bright lights, can make a pretty daunting situation for your pet. Additionally, dogs experience fireworks differently from other loud sounds (like ones they hear during thunderstorms) because fireworks are much closer to the ground, more vibrant, and let off a burning, smoky smell.
Step One: Create a safe space for them
If your pooch is frightened, their automatic response is probably going to be to run and hide. So make sure to set up a safe space for your pup to go to when it’s getting a little bit much. A table with a blanket draped over it, or a cupboard under the stairs with the door left open make great hiding places for your dog. Additionally, make sure if they have a crate it’s easily accessible to them. It is important that your pup can easily come and go from the space as they may injure himself trying to escape if they’re very scared. Introduce your pooch to the chosen safe area with treats or toys: this will bring comfort and make them feel more at ease.
Step Two: Prepare your home.
Your house will be your dog’s safety zone, so it’s important to prep for impending firework displays. Drawing curtains will help block out flashes of light, but make sure to leave lamps on so your pup isn’t left in darkness. Try to keep the radio or TV on to drown out the loud bangs and add a sense of familiarity. You could also place lavender scented items around your home to help soothe your pet – use a spray or gently bruise the leaves and flowers of fresh plants (just keep ’em out of reach of gobbling puppers!
Step Three: DON’T PANIC!
Stay calm! Your dog can sense when you’re feeling panicky and will mirror your attitude, so it’s important to keep your cool, even if they aren’t. Reassure your pet without giving them too much attention, as this could reinforce the behavior for next time. Try to feed your dog before the fireworks start, as they could be too anxious to eat during the show. It is also important you walk your dog BEFORE or AFTER they go off–there’s nothing harder to deal with than a panicked pup on leash!
Other precautions to keep in mind:
1. Find out when your neighborhood will be having a fireworks display to plan accordingly.
2. Make sure your dog is wearing an ID collar in case fear causes them to bolt, even if they’re microchipped (hey, better to be over prepared, right?).
3. Beforehand, try to introduce your dog to similar noises slowly. This will help show there is nothing to be frightened of come fireworks night.
4. Speak to your vet regarding products that can help pets cope with stressful events.
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