Is your dog scared of fireworks? Here's what to do!
The Fourth of July is coming up fast, and you know what that means—time to start planning your cookout!
After you’ve sorted out the cooler situation, it’s time to make a checklist for your best furry friend—the one that’s usually hiding under the bed as soon as the sun goes down. Even if your dog’s afraid of fireworks, you can still make sure they have a good time.
Here’s some insight on why dogs are scared of fireworks and what you can do to keep your pup calm.
Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?
If you’ve only had anxiety-prone dogs, or if this is your first dog, you may think all dogs are scared of fireworks. It makes sense–fireworks are loud and unpredictable, and dogs have no way of knowing that they don’t pose a real threat.
But there are plenty of dogs who aren’t bothered by loud noises like fireworks. So is it just a personality thing?
It’s actually more complex than that, according to a study that looked at the reactions to loud noises in 17 dog breeds. Here are some interesting things they learned about which dogs might be more afraid of fireworks:
- Older dogs were more afraid of fireworks
- Female dogs and neutered dogs were more likely to be sensitive to loud noises
- 23% of the dogs in the study were fearful of loud noises
- Norwegian Buhunds, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, and Lagotto Romagnolos had the highest frequency of noise sensitivity
- Boxers, Chinese Crested, and Great Danes had lower frequencies of fear created by noise
Another study found that a dog’s early environment and exposure to specific loud noises also play a part in developing fear responses to noises.
How to Calm a Dog That’s Scared of Fireworks
Whether you have a dog that starts trembling at the first boom, or you’re prepping for your first Fourth of July with your pup, we’ve got some helpful survival tips.
Make your dog’s day with calming treats.
Treats that use a variety of calming herbs can help support relaxation and a calm mood during fireworks. Pet Releaf Edibites use functional ingredients like chamomile, baobab, and hemp extract, plus a bunch of organic ingredients for a flavorful peanut butter taste. They also offer organic, full-spectrum hemp oil for dogs of all sizes that can help support your dog’s stress levels.
Try the same method a mother dog would use–dog appeasing pheromones.
Mother dogs release special calming pheromones a few days after giving birth. Humans can’t smell these chemical messengers, but they have an effect on both puppies and adult dogs. You can try out the synthetic version of dog appeasing pheromones that’s available in plug-in diffusers, calming collars, and sprays.
Make your pup feel safe and secure in an anxiety vest.
It’s the same idea as swaddling a baby or wrapping yourself up in a cozy blanket. Dog anxiety vests give your dog that secure feeling of being all bundled up, which can help calm your dog. It’s probably the most natural thing you can do to help keep your dog calm–and of course giving them extra snuggles during the fireworks.
Set up a doggy safe space in your house.
Keep your dog inside during the fireworks, and make sure they have a spot where they feel safe. If your dog already has their own crate where they can come and go, you can put some puzzle treat toys and chew toys in there. This will keep them focused on something enjoyable while they hang out in their safe spot.
If your dog doesn’t already use a crate, it’s best to set up another type of space. You can get them a cozy new bed or just pile up some clothes you’ve worn–trust us, your dog will love the smell.
Then make sure you have some amazing treats and new toys that you only bring out when the fireworks start. Treat toys like KONG or Busy Buddies where your pup will have to work to get the treat out are great for providing the perfect distraction.
Play some calming music or use white noise.
Can music really calm dogs? And if so, what kind of music? Luckily, we have the answers from several studies that have been done on this. Your best bet is classical music, more specifically solo piano music. Some other good options are reggae and soft rock.
Give them a snuggle buddy with a heartbeat.
We’re not saying you need to adopt another pet–just a stuffed animal toy that has a heartbeat noise. Some even come with warming packs so it feels like your pup is curled up next to a littermate, mother dog, or best doggy friend. Pet parents swear by these, even for older dogs.
Counterconditioning, aka, sharing some positive vibes with your dog.
A survey that was sent out by the University of Bern’s Companion Animal Behavior Group in Switzerland uncovered perhaps the most promising option for helping dogs that are afraid of fireworks.
Counterconditioning sounds like a fancy therapy word, but it’s really just taking a scary situation and making it fun for your dog. According to the survey, giving dogs special playtime, treats, and positive interactions during fireworks had a success rate of 70%.
Look into getting a few new interactive toys that you can use to play with your pup. It can be super simple, like some new tennis balls or a tug-of-war toy; whatever your dog is really into!
You may need to ask your vet about anxiety medications.
If none of these methods have worked, or your dog gets really freaked out about a lot of other things beyond fireworks, ask your vet about anxiety medications. They can figure out the best plan for your dog based on their current health condition.
If you follow these tips, you and your best doggy pal will both be ready to have a great Fourth of July!