Although there are a few dogs who have no problem with the sight and sounds of fireworks, most dogs DO! And that can make holidays like the Fourth of July a particularly stressful holiday for dogs and their family. Because we know that more pets run away on the 4th more than any other day of the year, there are important steps that you must take to ensure their safety.
Fireworks can be very traumatic to some dogs, but the good news is that this particular fear responds well to sound desensitization techniques (unlike dogs who are fearful of thunder!).
Start by playing a CD of fireworks at a super low volume in the morning, and gradually raise the volume during the day, by the time the real fireworks happen, your dog will just think it’s a natural part of his day.
Increasing the volume too quickly (before the dog is behaving in a calm and relaxed manner while the sound was playing at a lower volume), or exposing the dog to the sound of real fireworks before the desensitization program is complete will almost guarantee a relapse.
In the meantime, if there’s a chance your dog might be exposed to fireworks before you complete the desensitization program, then…
If at all possible, stay home so you don’t risk your dog having a fear/stress-induced meltdown. Invite some friends over to watch the fireworks on TV (with the mute button on, of course).
Here are a few ideas to keep your dog calm when you’re hanging out together:
- Play calming music
- Have a container of awesome treats (or toys) within reach. Whenever a firework goes off, calmly inhale and then exhale, then reach for a treat and hand (or throw!) it to your dog. Feel free to toss a handful of treats, or your dog’s favorite toy. Do this every time there’s a fireworks sound, and, if it lasts a long time (the grand finale), just keep calmly tossing out treats.
- Give your dog a food puzzle(or several) to enjoy. If you have a Kong, you can fill it with peanut butter, baby food, canned pumpkin, and freeze it. These can wear your dog out mentally and physically so that he’s tired well before the fireworks begin!Not sure what to add to your dog’s food toy? Check out my recipe book here: https://www.expertdogtips.com/perfect-dog-pacifiers
- Or, if you don’t have time to prepare a frozen Kong, make one with melted cheese, instead. Melt cheese in a glass container and then pour it into the Kong. You can also put a 1-inch cube (or a slice) of cheese into the Kong, microwave for 20seconds (times may vary depending on your microwave), and swirl it around until the inside is coated with cheese. Cool off before giving to him!
- Tags and microchips should be up to date and reflect your current contact information, just in case he does escape!
If You Must Go Out:
- Hire a pet sitter or friend to stay with your dog, or bring your dog to someone’s house who won’t experience the noise from fireworks.
- Make sure he’s wearing tags and has a microchip with your current contact information.
- Take a long ‘training-oriented’ walk to exercise your dog before you leave. That helps increase the possibility of him falling asleep while you’re gone.
- Leave music, white noise, and/or television on.
- Leave him with a full food puzzle (or several) to enjoy while you’re away. If you have a Kong, you can fill it with peanut butter, baby food, canned pumpkin (go to https://www.expertdogtips.com/perfect-dog-pacifiers for more recipes!) and freeze it.
- Or, if you don’t have time to prepare a frozen Kong, make a melted cheese Kong, instead (see recipe above).
DAP, WRAP, AND CLOTHES, OH MY!
The following are suggestions that have worked well for my students, but because every dog is different, check with your vet before trying them out. Also, remember to give them a test run to see if they’ll work for your dog, and if not, make sure you have a Plan B!
Dog appeasing pheromones (DAP), which may naturally help calm nervous dogs and are available in collars, diffusers, and sprays.
- Canine Gym Fit Vest
- Anxiety Wrap
- Calming Essential Oils (make sure it’s safe for dogs)
- Herbal anti-stress supplement for dogs
- Pet Releaf Soft Chew Peanut Butter & Banana Edibites (Regular & Large Breed)
- Pet Releaf Soft Chew Sweet Potato Pie Edibites (Regular & Large Breed)
- Pet Releaf Hemp Oil 330 (for small dogs & cats)
- Pet Releaf CBD Hemp Oil 700 (for small to medium-sized dogs)
- Pet Releaf CBD Hemp Oil 1700 (for medium to large breed dogs)
- Pet Releaf Liposome Hemp Oil 100
- Pet Releaf Liposome Hemp Oil 300
To order yours for school pickup, please text us at: (201) 512-8316
While any sound sensitivity with a dog is a challenge, I find the that fear of fireworks is the most easily desensitized/handled one of all. And with some pre-planning and desensitization, you should notice that your dog is better able to tolerate the sounds better than he did last year!