No matter where you live in the U.S., fireworks on the 4th of July are a given. For most people, it’s a fun and celebratory way to end the night. For dog owners, however, it can be an absolute nightmare.
Whether you have a particularly skittish dog or not, fireworks can be anxiety-inducing for any pup. Here are some steps you can take in making sure your dog feels calm once the fireworks start going off.
Get your dog used to fireworks first
If you have time to prepare before fireworks start going off, take some time to help your dog realize fireworks aren’t so scary. You can try desensitizing your pup by playing a YouTube video of fireworks, starting out at a quiet volume and turning it up a notch at a time to get your dog adjusted.
K9 of Mine recommends playing with your dog or giving them treats so they have positive associations with the sounds.
Try to stay home
If possible, try to be home with your dog when you expect fireworks to be going off. Even if you’re planning to party on the 4th of July, see if your friends and family wouldn’t mind celebrating at your place so your pup isn’t all alone. Your fur baby is undoubtedly happier when you’re with them, and you’ll be able to monitor how they’re handling the loud sounds.
Provide a familiar, safe space
Dogs often consider their crates a safe space. If you have a crate for your dog, fill it with their favorite toys and make it cozy with a crate bed and blankets. You may even want to partially (or fully) cover the crate for a maximum feeling of security. However, some dogs feel more anxious if they don’t know what’s going on — so do whatever works best for your pup.
Distract your dog with long-lasting treats or toys
If you can distract your dog in the form of a tasty treat or toy, they may not even care about the fireworks. Consider getting your dog a Nylabone chew toy. Their products are flavored and seriously indestructible, so your dog could stay occupied for hours. K9 of Mine also recommends filling a Kong with wet food and freezing it. That way, it will be a delicious project for your dog to focus on.
Tire them out
Prior to any fireworks you may be expecting, be sure to tire your dog out earlier in the day. Take them for a long walk or make a trip to the dog park, and they’ll be ready to lounge the rest of the day. That way, they may not be as on-edge once the fireworks start going off.
Put a compression vest on your pup
While you may be able to swaddle a smaller dog for comfort, bigger dogs may be a bit more difficult. Instead, a compression vest may do the trick. According to CNET, “Some good options are the Surgi Snuggly, the ThunderShirt, or the American Kennel Club AKC Anti-Anxiety and Stress Relief Calming Coat.”
The gentle pressure provided by compression vests has proven to instantly calm dogs down, so this may be useful in a number of scenarios (car rides, thunderstorms, etc.).
Drown out the noise
Depending on where you live, you have some options for drowning out the noise of fireworks. If you have a basement, it may be a quieter space for your dog — especially if you have a washer and dryer down there to turn on and cover up the noise.
At the very least, you may want to try turning on the TV or radio to potentially serve as a distraction.
Try anti-anxiety medication
Some dogs can only calm down with the help of medication. Whether you want to try over-the-counter medications, calming treats, or even Frankincense essential oil, you have plenty of options for what will work best for your dog.
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