Fourth of July is just around the corner, which means fireworks are coming and, in many communities, have already started. For lots of dogs, the loud bangs can be traumatic. Whether your dog is just a little sensitive to the noise or suffers from a full-on phobia, being proactive can help make fireworks season much more tolerable and safer for your dog.
Don’t Let Your Dog Get Lost
It has been asserted that more dogs are reported lost during fireworks season than at other times of the year. This makes sense as a scared pup is likely to try to flee the thing that scares him. Before the loud noises begin, make sure that your dog will be able to find his way back to you if he gets lost. Check that your dog is wearing his identification tags and that your phone number and address are visible on them. If your dog is microchipped, be sure that the subscription is active and that all of your information is up-to-date. Try to keep your dog from getting lost in the first place by keeping all doors and accessible windows closed tightly and don’t let him outside alone or off-leash during the fireworks show.
Do Help Your Dog Find Refuge
Whether you create a safe space or make your dog’s choice of space more comfortable, be sure to provide your dog with easy access to an area where he will feel safe during the fireworks. Some dogs want to be in a covered crate, some want to hide in a bathroom or closet, and some just want to be wherever you are. Whatever the case with your dog, put some blankets or bedding there and leave some water, toys, and treats for him. You may want to play white noise or calming music on low volume to help counter the loud, scary noises.
Don’t Ignore or Punish Your Dog’s Anxious Behavior
Nervous dogs will pace, cry, howl, and bark. It can be difficult to be around. But now is not the time to ignore your dog’s behavior for fear of accidentally rewarding it, nor is it appropriate to punish your dog to get him to quiet down. Remember, his fear is biologically based – he can’t help it. Ignoring him will make him feel more anxious because you aren’t helping to soothe him and punishing him will be adding to his discomfort. Plus, punishment is never the way to alter a dog’s behavior. Instead, speak calmly to your dog in a soothing voice and pet or cuddle him if he’ll let you.
Do Exercise, Distract, and Train Your Dog
If possible, walk or run your dog for a while or play a game of fetch, catch, or whatever your dog’s favorite activity is before the fireworks begin to get out his excess energy and tire him out. This may help him relax more easily later. During the fireworks, if he’s up for it, you can play some more or just cuddle up on the couch in front of a feel-good movie. If he’s close to you and the television is playing happy, soothing sounds, it may help him to feel calmer.
You can also train your dog to no longer fear loud noises. Begin by gradually exposing him to the sound at low volumes while he is doing something fun, like playing or eating. Over time, increase the volume in small intervals. The more positive experiences he associates with the sounds, the less he will fear those sounds in the future.
Do Consult Your Veterinarian and Consider Supplements
Sometimes, your dog’s noise anxiety is heightened due to an underlying health condition, like an ear infection or arthritis. If your dog reacts with fear to loud noises, take him to the veterinarian to rule out any potential medical causes of his discomfort. You can also talk with your veterinarian about using supplements to help ease your dog’s fear. Your veterinarian may want to write a prescription or, more likely, have you try over-the-counter solutions first. Earth Animal offers several all-natural remedies that are highly effective at helping dogs (and cats) who suffer from noise anxiety.
For an all-natural aid to combat stress, our Calmness Organic Herbal Remedy is a relieving, organic herbal blend that supports balanced behavior, promotes a calming effect, and helps maintain contentment during travel, grooming, thunderstorms, fireworks, motion sickness, or environmental changes. Add the hand-crafted drops to your pup’s water before and during the Independence Day celebrations to help manage their stress. Emotional Balance is a healing blend of flower essences that helps reduce fear and behavior. It helps to balance the emotions and minimize neurotic behavior such as separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, thunderstorms, visits to the groomer, relocation, obedience issues, aggressive behavior, or bereavement. For chronic anxiety, we recommend using Emotional Balance for one month.
Fireworks season can be stressful for any animal, but for those with fear of loud noises it can be quite traumatic. Help your dog through the stress and work on training techniques that can help him to overcome his fear altogether so that you can both enjoy a happy Fourth of July.