As exciting as the dazzling colors of 4th of July fireworks can be for us humans, our pups don’t exactly share the sentiment. Of course, many dogs don’t mind the noise and lights, but many also panic when they hear the explosions, even small ones.
While there’s no one way to keep your dog calm during the 4th of July, there are countless ideas to help ease anxieties for dogs scared of fireworks. From techniques to products, these anxiety tips for dogs are worth a shot at least. Your pup is bound to find something that comforts him, and you never know what exactly it’ll be.
It’s always special to have your furry friend by your side during holidays and special moments, but your dog might prefer to sit this one out. Bringing a dog scared of fireworks closer to his trigger is not likely to go well. Even if nothing major happens, your dog’s fear will only be reinforced by this intense encounter. If you’re watching on TV, however, you’ll surely have a buddy sitting next to you on the sofa.
Dogs, who are den animals, often feel safe in a familiar, enclosed space like in a crate or under a table. They may gravitate toward these places naturally, or you may have to encourage them to make themselves at home by creating a comfy space that’s all their own.
Make sure his special space is quiet and out of the way of any hustle and bustle of the house. Try putting down one of his favorite blankets, or even something of yours that he can snuggle with for comfort. A treat-releasing toy can be an awesome distraction, too, but don’t be tough on your pup if he’s feeling too stressed to play.
You may have seen it on TV, but have you seen it work? The ThunderShirt uses gentle compression to “hug” your dog into a sense of comfort whether he’s feeling fearful or overexcited, though it’s not tight enough to harm him in any way. Its breathable, lightweight fabric won’t weigh down your pup, so he can jump and play to his heart’s content. But honestly, he’ll prefer to take a nap when he has his ThunderShirt on!
Even if your dog doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety, being home alone can make fireworks extra scary. If you’re able to stay home with your dog, do it! He’ll have his favorite person there to comfort him through the loud noises and bright lights, and you’ll have the perfect date to spend the holiday with.
One stress reliever that’s popular among humans might comfort your dog, too: white noise. Whether you play ambient rain sounds, ocean waves, or some meditation music, it can help distract your pup from the louder, scarier sounds happening outside. Phew!
While you’re comforting your pup on the 4th of July, be mindful of how you use your voice. Speaking in a high-pitched, fast-paced voice is likely to rile up your dog instead of calm him, even if you’re saying something calming. Instead, try speaking in a normal, calm voice in a library-appropriate volume. It’s okay to talk a little louder, especially when fireworks are going off around you, but be sure not to speak any louder than you normally would when giving a command, or you risk adding to your pet’s stress.
For long-term firework fears, exposure therapy may help dogs get used to the sounds they hate the most. A safe way to take this on without actually exposing your dog to fireworks is by playing the sound of fireworks on your TV or computer.
The recorded fireworks should be loud enough for him to hear them but not loud enough to cause either of you stress. Don’t forget to bring the treats so your dog can associate firework sounds with something tasty rather than something stressful. After a while, try a different video or increase the volume bit by bit; before you know it, your dog won’t even care about the 4th of July fireworks.
Whether you live in an area where fireworks are popular or you’re looking forward to lighting some yourself (be safe!), helping your dog cope with his fear of fireworks is essential. He’s sure to feel better when someone he loves is with him, though you should never force your pet to hang out around one of his biggest stressors. With some planning and patience, however, you’ll figure it out! Plenty of 4th of July plans don’t include huge fireworks displays — and they’re just as fun!
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