dogs and fireworks: help your pup cope with the rockets’ red glare

by Kira Garrett | July 04, 2014

It’s the biggest, boomiest celebration of the summer for Americans, but for some dogs, the Fourth of July is more frightening than fun. The thunderous noise from fireworks can have a major effect on some dogs, while others barely seem to notice. Much of that has to do with their first exposure to fireworks, but it sometimes happens that even if a dog is well out of the puppy stage, a major scare will stay with him for the rest of his life. Whether you have a dog who’s new to fireworks or an old pro, frightened or calm, it’s important to carefully consider what you’ll do with him this Fourth of July when the big show starts.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

·       Make sure you dog has identifying tags on his collar. Many dogs bolt and run away at the sound of fireworks each year and end up lost. If your dog does run away, contact nearby shelters and send out an alert on Facebook or Twitter.

·       Give your dog a “safe place” in your home. If you can easily hear the booming of the fireworks from your home, there’s the potential that the noise and vibrations could end up scaring your dog, particularly if he’s not accustomed to it. Set up a kennel or crate, line it with soft blankets, add a few of his favorite toys and, if it’s a wire-frame crate, cover it with blankets to create a cave-like atmosphere. Allow your dog to retreat there if he gets frightened. Calmly praise or reassure him when he goes in.

·       Try acclimating him to the sounds. There are videos of fireworks sounds available on YouTube. Turn the video on, not too loud at first, and then go about your business like normal. Gradually increase the volume and keep an eye on your dog’s reaction.

·       Talk to your holistic vet about calming aids. If your dog already has a behavior pattern of becoming anxious and frightened during fireworks, ask your holistic vet about solutions for reducing his stress. There are some herbal calming aids available, and the scent of some essential oils can also have a relaxing effect, but it’s important to consult the vet to see what’s best for your dog.

·       Whenever possible, don’t take your dog to outdoor fireworks displays. The idea of getting together in a big crowd to watch the fireworks on a summer night certainly has its appeal – to you. But for a dog, it can feel chaotic. When he’s surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar place, as well as seeing, feeling and hearing the big blasts, it’s a recipe for panic – avoid putting him through that kind of stress.