How to Help Your Dog Cope With Fireworks

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Independence day is right around the corner and for us humans, that means lots of fireworks and fun. But while we might be fascinated by all those colorful lights in the sky, many of our four-legged friends respond to the loud booms, bright lights, and strange smells with stress and fear. If you have a fireworks-sensitive pup, try these five tips to help them cope this July 4th so everyone can have a safe and stress-free holiday!

1. Be in the Know
The first step in helping your pup remain calm during fireworks is to know exactly when your town’s fireworks display will happen. Depending on weather and location, some towns opt to shoot their fireworks off a day or two before or after July 4th in order to have clear skies. Knowing the exact time of the fireworks can also be helpful so you can ensure that your pup will be safe at home when they start to go off. A simple visit or phone call to your local town-hall or police station can help clear up any confusion you might have about timing and make it easier for you to prepare your dog for the celebration.

2. Tire Your Dog Out
Prior to a night of fireworks, get your dog nice and tired during the daylight hours so that when the time comes, they’ll be too exhausted to stress over the scary sounds. On top of your daily walk, consider taking your pup to the park for some quality time with other dogs or a nice jog around the neighborhood to really get his muscles moving. At home, try playing games like fetch, tug, or follow-the-leader or consider working on some basic training commands. Anything you can think of to really tire out your dog will ultimately help them to cope with any fear they might feel later. After all, a tired pup is a happy pup!

3. Create a Safe Environment
Once the fireworks actually start, it’s important to make your dog feel like they are in a secure and safe place. Go through the house and make sure that all doors and windows are closed and, if possible, all curtains are drawn. Keep the lights on in your home so as to help drown out any bright flashes and allow your dog to pick a room or space where they feel most comfortable. Some dogs seek out a hiding spot to make themselves feel more secure like a closet, crate, or bed. If so, give your pup their space and try to make it seem as familiar and safe as possible by providing a favorite toy, blanket or treat and plenty of access to water. Don’t worry, your dog will be out and about again in no time!

4. Keep Your Dog Distracted
Perhaps the best way to help your pup cope with their fear of fireworks is by taking their mind off of them all together. Counteract the loud booms and bright lights by turning the television on really loudly or playing soothing music. Commonplace sounds can also be very beneficial and help your dog to feel safe by providing them with normality. Try turning on the air-conditioner, dishwasher, or vacuum as tools to create some white noise. Providing your pup with a puzzle toy or Kong stuffed with food can also distract them by providing them with a job or task to complete. Even just being around your dog to soothe and pet them can be a huge distraction as some pups just need the comfort of being touched to calm down. Consider allowing your dog up on the couch or bed for some one-on-one time and snuggles! If you plan to head to the fireworks yourself and have to leave your pup alone during the ordeal, consider using a calming treatment to help ease their anxiety. ThunderShirt’s are weighted jackets designed to deliver gentle, constant pressure to your dog’s body that feels just like a hug and helps quell anxiety, fear, and excitement. If left alone, your furry friend might benefit from the distraction of something like the ThunderShirt.

5. Remove the Threat Entirely
If, at the end of the day, you feel like the threat of fireworks will just be too much for your pup, consider removing them from the situation entirely. Arrange to drive your dog to a friend or family member’s house that is far enough away from the fireworks display that they won’t be able to see or hear them happening. Many towns also have dog-friendly cafes, restaurants, or stores that you could possibly take your dog to for an hour or so until the display is over. Consider looking into a daycare or boarding facility that would be more than happy to take your dog for a couple hours while you yourself go and enjoy the show. Ultimately, it’s your dog’s overall happiness and wellbeing that matters and if that means removing the threat of fireworks all together then so be it!

Fireworks can be scary to a dog who doesn’t understand or appreciate the loud booms, bright lights, and strange smells. But with these tips we hope that you can help your pup feel a bit more safe and secure this holiday so everyone can have a happy fourth!