When people think of the 4th of July, they think of fireworks. What people don’t think enough about are their dogs and fireworks.
For a dog, fireworks can be very frightening. A dog doesn’t understand what they are or why we are shooting them off. All that they know is that there are lots of random, loud noises and sometimes vibrations happening all around them.
Some dogs become very anxious and stressed by fireworks.
A frightened dog will run to try and escape the noise. The longer the fireworks are going off, the further a dog will run.
Shelters see a rush of lost dogs on July 5th.
If you are leaving your house and think your dog will be safe in a secure yard, you need to rethink that. A scared dog that feels trapped will do whatever it takes to get under, through, or over a fence.
A safer option is to leave your dog inside the house if you are not going to be home, or so you think. A frightened dog can destroy your house when panic sets in.
Dogs will shred furniture, chew through doors, and go through glass windows to escape the noise. Once out of the house and out of the yard, they will take off running.
It’s essential to take precautions to make sure your dog stays safe during the 4th of July festivities.
1. Stay Home
For some dogs, just being in the secure setting of their own home with their human is enough to offset the trauma of loud fireworks.
For other dogs, location is irrelevant. The sound of fireworks can cause such high anxiety that dogs may tremble, whine, or even become nervously aggressive. Stay home to comfort and help get your dog through the evening.
A tired dog is going to be easier to manage. Take your dog out for a long play session as close to dusk as possible.
3. Close Down Your House
Hunker down before the noise starts. Close your blinds, shut your drapes, and keep your dog away from your windows and doors.
4. White Noise
Try to drown out the intensity of the boom and pops of fireworks by turning on items where your dog is. Crank up fans, the air conditioner, the television, or music. White noise isn’t a cure, but it can help.
Hunker down in one room and stay there with your dog. If your anxious dog wants to pace, encourage them to lay down next to you or let them snuggle if it will help.
6. Confine in a Tight Space
A tight, enclosed space gives dogs a sense of security. If your dog is crate trained, this is the perfect time to put it to use. Your dog will feel safe in their den, and you will have the peace of mind they are secure, and no harm or destruction will occur.
If you don’t have a crate, clean out a corner of a closet or another enclosed area in your house. Put your dog’s bedding in the space and encourage them to go there. It might not work for all dogs, but it is helpful for some.
7. Distract with Treats
Now is the time to break out something good to chew and eat. Some dogs will show no interest, but dogs that are food motivated will become focused on the treat and will ignore the commotion going on outside.
8. Stay Calm
Dogs are sensitive to their owner’s body language and non-verbal cues. If fireworks make you tense or anxious, your dog is going to follow your lead. Stay calm, stay relaxed, and keep your voice low and soothing. Your relaxed demeanor will ease your dog’s fear and give them confidence they are safe.
9. Don’t Force Your Dog to Overcome their Fear of Fireworks
When the pops, booms, and explosions start, now’s not the time to expose a fearful dog to the chaos.
Do not take an anxious dog outside to making them overcome their fears. This can traumatize a dog and make an ordinarily good-natured dog temporarily become fearfully aggressive.
Instead, do whatever it takes to comfort, soothe, and reassure your dog to get them through the evening.
10. Identification Tags
Make sure your dog’s ID tags are up to date with your current contact information and that your dog is wearing them.
If your dog is microchipped, it’s still a good idea to have tags on your dog’s collar. If your dog ever goes missing, a good Samaritan can use the tags to call you immediately.
The Thundershirt is a calming wrap that your dog wears. The manufacturer claims to have over 80% success rate in reducing anxiety, fear, and over excitement.
I’ve never used one, but a lot of dog and cat owners swear by them.
Severe situations might require medicating your dog to alleviate the stress caused by fireworks.
If this is the first year, your dog or pup will be experiencing fireworks, you may be unsure how they are going to react.
If they are startled by loud noises such as cars backfiring, yard equipment, motorcycles, sirens, etc. it is likely they will become stressed by fireworks.
If you already know your dog doesn’t cope well with fireworks and you are dreading the 4th of July, you need to plan ahead and be prepared.
You can contact your vet and ask for prescribed medication. Most vets are going to require an office visit, so plan accordingly for time and budget.
Don’t have the time to go through your vet?
Benadryl can be used for sedation. You will find Benadryl at any drug or grocery store, and the generic version is fine to use. Dosage is one milligram per pound. Start with a low dose and monitor how your dog reacts.
Another alternative is CBD oil or Hemp infused edibles explicitly targeted to reduce anxiety. Follow the dosage recommendation on the packaging and always monitor your dog.
Not all dogs are disturbed by fireworks. Even those that are not fazed, however, should be watched.
If your dog is present during fireworks, keep them on their leash to ensure they remain at a safe distance to avoid getting singed or accidentally ingesting any of the explosives.
If you are hosting a 4th of July party, make sure that you secure your dog in a safe place and alert your guests where your dog is and that they are not to be let out.
If you will be leaving your dog home alone on the 4th, secure them inside your house in a room or preferably in a crate. Exercise them before you go, darken the room, turn on white noise, provide toys and treats, and medicate if needed.
The 4th of July is a cause for celebration and fireworks are often a part of it. Take some simple precautions to keep your dog safe and comfortable as possible.