How to Prepare Your Dog For 4th of July FireworksJun | 20 | 2023
For some dog parents, 4th of July or New Year’s Eve may not always feel all festive and fun. Instead the thought of sitting through these holidays with fireworks or loud noises can cause some worry and anxiety especially with our dogs around.
According to Science Direct, about 40% of dogs have a fear of loud sounds including fireworks and thunderstorm that cause severe anxiety. Symptoms that you may notice are flattened ears, shaking / trembling, panting, vocalizing (barking, whining, howling), clinging to you, or hiding in a certain area of the house. Once the first “pop” goes off, either the sound or smell will trigger your dog’s “fight or flight” to kick in, resulting in them panicking. Training your dog as early on as possible to overcome these fears can keep your dog safe and healthier in the long run.
Here are some tips that you can try to help work through loud noises with your dog.
Desensitizing your dog to firework or loud noises
- Find a safe and enclosed space to do your desensitization training. Using a leash in a bigger space can minimize the potential risk of having a dog on the loose.
- Introduce your pup to positive thoughts like “fun” instead of fear when they hear a loud noise or “pop” and reward with a treat they find valuable
- Try playing firework videos or thunderstorm videos on a low volume level. The volume should be loud enough for your dog to hear yet low enough to not send them in a panic and then reward them with a high value treat / toy or with praise.
- Take it to the next step. Once they are comfortable with a low level volume, try leaving them alone and raising the volume slightly each time. Reward with positive reinforcement everytime.
- Stay consistent, have a short training session daily, make a weekly routine to work through your dog’s fear. The best way to overcome their phobia is to keep working through it which might take weeks or months. If you and your pup currently have a training routine already, consider adding the desensitization training onto your existing routine to build consistency.
- If your dog has severe phobia, contact a trainer or vet to find the best solution for your pup. Remember that every dog is different and some pups may need customized training or other solutions.
Working through fireworks or loud noises the day of
- Create a “den” like area for your dog to feel safe and comfortable during the fireworks. Ensure the windows are closed and your dog has their favorite comfort toy or blanket to make them as comfortable as possible.
- Play white noise in the background to help soothe and relax your dog during fireworks. You can try having a fan on, air purifier, radio or dog music station, or TV noise to drown out the sounds of the fireworks going off.
- Make sure to take your dog(s) on a long walk before the fireworks start or tire them out during the day with training, stimulating toys and puzzles, or even an early playdate with a friend.
- Feed your dog early before the fireworks as this might help with their anxiousness and will make them feel a little more at ease with food in their stomach.
- Praise your dog through the fireworks. Try to do a training session, a snuffle mat, or a lick mat to help destress their anxiousness. This will help with keeping them calm and mentally stimulated which will eventually tire them out.
- Try calming methods such as CBD treats, calming chews, hemp oil or a thunder shirt or wrap. Make sure to test these beforehand to ensure they are effective and won’t give your pup any reactions or cause them more anxiety.
- If you think or know your dog will have a bad reaction to the fireworks, keep them away from the firework shows and stay indoors. Don’t leave your dog alone, try to make plans to stay at home with them or call a sitter / friend to stay home with them to help keep them calm and comforted.
- Remember to stay calm yourself. Your dog feeds off of your energy too so if you feel anxiety or panic, your dog will probably feel those senses as well.
Prepare for being outdoors with your dog with fireworks
According to the AKC, holidays like 4th of July, are when the highest number of dogs go missing due to fireworks. As a responsible pet parent, consider leaving your dog at home if you're unaware of how your dog will react if you’ll be taking them out and about. Be prepared for the unexpected, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure your dog has proper ID with your contact info in case they get panicked or startled and run off. If your dog is microchipped, make sure to have their chip number on hand.
- If you use a tracker, attach the device to their collar securely and make sure it’s working and up-to-date in case you need to track their location.
- Use a double leash or leash up your harness and collar together to keep pup secure and close even if they are suddenly spooked.
- Make sure your dog’s gear is safely secured and fitted well so they can’t escape or squeeze out of their gear.
- Let your group know what to do incase of a situation where your dog runs away. Have a physical photo of your pet and have a plan on where to look and what kind of hiding spots your dog likes.
- Keep pup close and check in on them often throughout your outing to make sure they are doing okay.
If your dog happens to run off, call your local animal control agencies to check and notify. If they are microchipped, American Kennel Club also has a AKC Reunite Program that will have live agents available 24/7 to help notify you if your dog is found. Checking or posting on your neighborhood groups on Facebook or Nextdoor is another option to consider.
Whether you're looking for solutions on how to get through the firework holidays or wanting to overcome your dog’s phobia of loud noises completely, we’re certain that with patience, consistency, and counter-conditioning training, you and your dog will be able to do so together.
Stay safe and Happy training, Beesties!
Wildebeest creates everyday essentials that help you build that special bond, share adventures big & small and make amazing memories with your Beest. We'll be right there every step of the way, with our gear & Wild4Life Warranty in tow, supporting you & Beest all throughout the lifetime of your companionship!
Essentials For Peace of Mind
It doesn't take much for you and Beest to feel safe and secure. Our Starter Kit of Funston essentials will help you feel at peace.SHOP FUNSTON KIT