Every 4th of July, Jon gives his 11-year-old Lakeland terrier, Scout, a mild sedative. He drives her as far from the local fireworks as possible, cranks up the radio, and makes a heroic attempt to keep her calm. Scout isn’t alone.
So, why are dogs afraid of fireworks, and what can we do to help them? Fortunately, there are plenty of simple strategies for dog owners. From distraction to anti-anxiety vests and more, we’ve rounded up all the tips you need to help your pet feel better when the noises start.
Experts from the Humane Society emphasize the importance of keeping your dog indoors on fireworks-heavy days. This helps reduce their exposure to the sounds, plus prevent their running away. Turning on a radio or television helps provide white noise and distraction.
Also, consider leaving town for a quieter spot if you can. Camping, perhaps? If you’re not able to get away, and you live in an area with lots of fireworks activity, try a pet sitter who doesn’t live as close to all that noise. A loving, local sitter or doggy day care provider can also help if your pup is going to be alone over the holiday.
Talk to your veterinarian about medication if you know your pet is upset by the holiday festivities. There are a variety of options that could help treat your dog’s firework phobia.
A common myth has it that if you pet your pup during an anxious episode, they’ll feel more afraid.
However, calmly soothing and reassuring your dog is fine as long as you avoid loud exclamations or frantic movements. So, cuddle away!
These snug-fitting vests apply sustained, comforting pressure to your dog’s torso.
Temple Grandin, professor of animal sciences, has researched this method and discusses it in her book Animals make us Human. Dr. Grandin advises putting on the wrap for 20-30 minutes, removing it for a similar period, and then reapplying it. A handful of companies offer them; we like ThunderShirt.
More dogs go missing over the 4th of July than at any other time of year. The reason? They get spooked. This can happen when you least expect it! To help:
Dr. Stanley Coren, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, prefers the following steps over anti-anxiety drugs. “Some meds take several weeks to build up,” he said. “You always have the behavior techniques at hand.”
Coren’s top techniques for a fireworks-averse dog include: