Fireworks are a staple on the Fourth of July. However, fireworks can be present on festivities other than Independence Day. Weddings, carnivals, and other events can end with a flurry of fireworks.
While humans are mesmerized by the exploding lights in the night sky, dogs can get scared and disoriented. That’s why it’s best to think ahead if you know there will be fireworks near your home or at an event to which you’ll be taking your furry friend.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your dog doesn’t freak out. Preparation will put you in a place of certainty so that you are not left trying to comfort your terrified dog.
Try to Avoid Fireworks
The first, and most obvious, recommendation is to avoid taking your dog to fireworks shows. Imagine if you had a traumatic experience with fireworks as a child. Having you relive the event without warning probably wouldn’t be the best therapy.
If there will be fireworks near your home, keep your dog indoors for the evening. Instead, give your puppy some extra attention.
Prepare for the Event Your Dog Runs Away
If you decide to attend an event with a fireworks show, make sure you prepare accordingly. Loud noises can cause your dog to run away in panic. make sure your pet has a proper ID so that it has a chance of being found and returned. You want to avoid this from happening, but it’s best to minimize the chances that you lose your friend.
Create a Safe Space
Whether you’ll be driving to the fireworks show or it’ll be near your home, try and create a comfortable safe space for your dog. At home, you can prepare a den where they can escape if they are startled by the explosions.
If your house has a basement, this could be the ideal location for a safe space. Being below ground level will probably muffle or completely dampen the noises. Your dog will also be sheltered from the flashes of light that may startle it.
In the absence of a basement, a roomy closet can play the same role. Place some comfy blankets or a box your dog can hide. Having their favorite toys will help dogs pass the time as the fireworks show unfolds. Furthermore, a snack will be cover their growling tummy and keep them busy while waiting for the fireworks to end.
Keep any curtains drawn and shut blinds to prevent the light flashes from being visible. Lights flashing in the sky can be just as disturbing to a dog as the loud bangs.
If you’re driving to a fireworks show, you might want to create a little den inside your car or truck so that your dog can hide. However, you don’t want to leave your dog unattended in the vehicle while you wander off. A scared dog in a confined space can be dangerous for your little friend.
Take Them for a Walk
You probably take your dog on walks at least a couple of times a day. If you know there will be fireworks later on in the evening, be sure you walk your dog in the afternoon. Don’t skip their second walk of the day because of the fireworks. Make it a long walk and make sure your dog gets out all its stress. You want your pet to be as calm as possible during the fireworks show.
If you’ll be taking your dog out around the time of the fireworks, make sure you use a leash. Take extra care to ensure that that the dog collar is a snug fit and the leash is secured. You don’t want your puppy running off scared if it’s taken by surprise by the loud noises.
Keep Your Dog Distracted
Fireworks shows don’t last too long. If you can keep your dog distracted from the noise and light flashes, all will be fine. Playing some sort of white noise can dampen the effect of the explosions. Playing some music or leaving a TV on is enough to cover the commotion.
While having white noise in the background to distract your furry pal, have some playtime. Keep your dog busy with its favorite game it likes to play with you. Between the ambient sound and the attention given to your activity, the fireworks will be less than a backdrop.
Classical music is widely considered to have a calming effect on dogs. If the tunes you choose to play have a strong bassline to mask the sound of the exploding fireworks, even better!
Comfort Your Dog
Be sure to comfort your dog if you can sense it’s afraid. Even if you can provide a safe space for it to run to, you shouldn’t leave your dog at home unattended during the fireworks. A startled dog can run around clumsily under the duress of the noise and flashes, possibly hurting itself.
If you have an obligation that will keep you away, have a trusted person stay with your dog while you’re out. A relative or close friend that can provide comfort to your dog is preferable to someone your pet isn’t acquainted with. If you decide to drop your dog off at a friend’s house, make sure they can provide all the comfort and care for your pet while you’re away.
If your dog needs to be comforted, think of your pet as you would a human being. When people are scared due to an unexpected event, the last thing you want to do is alarm them further. The same is true for your dog. If you try to put your dog at ease in a frantic way, you’ll just add to the confusion.
Instead, remain calm as you would with a child. Your dog senses when you feel relaxed and will mirror your state.
Train Your Dog for Fireworks
Instead of taking your dog to a place where there’ll be fireworks out of the blue, get your pet used to the situation. If you start well in advance of the fireworks show, your dog can become accustomed to the mayhem such an event involves.
Start by playing sounds of fireworks at home at a low volume. Make sure your dog hears them but don’t try and play the sounds too loud. You can find videos online of events with fireworks.
When beginning this training, try to observe your dog closely. If you notice panting and other signs of stress, you are playing the sounds too loudly.
A more advanced form of this desensitization training involves simultaneously playing a sound or video that your dog enjoys or giving it a tasty treat. This will cause your dog to associate the sound of the fireworks with a pleasant experience.
Gradually increase the sound of the fireworks until your dog is comfortable with a relatively loud volume. If you implement this conditioning correctly, you can remove the fear of fireworks from your dog almost completely.
Speak With a Vet
It’s not rare for dogs to experience anxiety. Fireworks can heighten this anxiety and cause them plenty of stress. A vet can offer medication and other advice for dealing with your furry pal’s stress.
Consult an Expert
Dog trainers are experts at helping pets acquire new skills and behaviors. If you are not able to train your dog to accept the noises and lights of a fireworks show, a knowledgeable trainer can help you solve your problem. Find a reputable professional with good reviews to help your dog gain the composure it needs to deal with fireworks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I give my dog for fireworks anxiety?
Melatonin, a supplement people take for their inability to fall asleep. It is a hormone that the pineal gland releases at night that controls the sleep cycle. Dogs that experience anxiety attacks respond well to melatonin. Be sure to consult with your vet for dosages to avoid unwanted side effects.
Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?
Dogs are afraid of fireworks for the same reason that a child that’s never been exposed to them is. Your dog will perceive the bangs and flashes as a threat and may hide, run away or start to whine and pace frantically. This can be dangerous as the confused and disoriented dog may put itself in harm’s way in its effort to escape the loud bangs.
How long does it take for a dog to calm down after fireworks?
Most dogs will calm down by the following morning. However, keep in mind that some dogs may take days, weeks, and some even months to recover. That’s why it’s best to plan. Don’t let your dog live with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Can I give my dog Benadryl for fireworks?
Yes, you can give Benadryl to dogs for their anxiety during a fireworks show. As with any medication for your puppy, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian for dosages. Natural solutions are always the best, so try and exhaust natural supplements and training before deciding on medication.