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Help Keep Your Dog Safe and Comfortable During Fireworks
Independence Day and holidays with fireworks can be very hard for dogs! Learn how to help them cope and keep them safe with these useful tips and tricks
Easy Ways to Help Dogs Cope With Fireworks
Published July 3, 2012 by Michelle Kretzer. Last Updated July 2, 2018.
Every Fourth of July, I end up with an 80-pound lap dog. From the moment the first firecracker pops, my German shepherd mix, Hannah, tries to convince me that she’s not that heavy and that the best way for us to mark the holiday is with her squashed up against my legs. Fortunately, there are some ways for both of us to survive Independence Day fireworks without my losing independence to a canine-inflicted leg injury:
Dennis from Atlanta|cc by 2.0
The most soothing thing for scared dogs is to have their guardians close by. It’s pretty easy for me to distract Hannah with games, brushing, petting, or food, and I make sure that I act upbeat and calm in order to reinforce the idea that she doesn’t have a reason to be afraid.
Drowning out fireworks with white noise or, even better, with “Through a Dog’s Ear” CDs, which are specially created by a sound scientist, a veterinarian, and a concert pianist to calm anxious dogs, makes the loud booms seem less frightening, and shutting the curtains and keeping the lights on helps to camouflage any sudden bursts of light.
Melatonin is the best calming natural supplement for dogs, and you can find it at any health food store. Give your dog from 1 to 4 mg, depending on bodyweight, and try to give it a little ahead of the fireworks, if possible.
A Thundershirt might well be the best solution of all. This snug garment (based on the same principle as swaddling a baby) has a very high success rate at calming anxious dogs. Many pet supply stores and vets now stock them.
Also, although Hannah isn’t the type to bolt if she gets startled, many dogs do dig under fences, tear through screen doors and windows, and even chew their way out of crates (another reason why crates are a bad idea) when they’re afraid, so I’ve got her microchipped and I keep her collar and tags on her during the fireworks, just in case. If you know anyone who makes their dog stay outside, please urge them to keep the dog indoors on the Fourth of July in order to prevent him or her from escaping or getting injured.
Here’s to a safe and stress-free Independence Day for you and your pooch!
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Dogs and Fireworks
Some dogs get anxious and stressed at the sound of fireworks, read the advice from the experts at Battersea about how to keep your dog calm in firework season.
DOGS AND FIREWORKS
Unlike a lot of humans, dogs can be scared of fireworks. The loud noises and flashing lights of fireworks can be very frightening for your dog, but there are things you can do to minimise your dog's stress levels. Here are our top tips for managing dogs and fireworks.
While there are things you can do to calm your dog during fireworks, getting your dog used to loud sounds can be a better long-term solution. By gradually desensitising your dog to loud noises over a period of time, you can teach them to associate these sounds with something positive, instead of something to be scared of.To learn how, watch our video guide on desensitising your dog to loud noises.
View the audio transcript for this video
10 WAYS TO HELP YOUR DOG THROUGH FIREWORKS SEASON
1. Avoid letting your dog outdoors at times when fireworks are likely to go off
Take your dog for a nice long walk well before dark. For most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11pm, but this curfew is extended to midnight on Bonfire Night so try to tire your dog out before it gets dark and then take them out for final toilet walks once the fireworks have stopped. If your dog is particularly scared of fireworks, you may want to feed them early too. If you have time, introduce these changes gradually over a few days so you don’t suddenly disrupt your dog’s routine.
2. Create a ‘safe place’ inside your home for your dog to hide from fireworks
A table draped with a blanket is a great retreat, or if your dog is used to being in a crate, cover it and leave it open with blankets inside. Don’t lock your dog in the crate, as this can be even more stressful for them. Give your dog options so they can choose where to hide.
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3. The sudden bang of fireworks can be masked by keeping a radio or TV on, which can reduce the impact noises may have on your pet
Classical music will help to calm dogs in general, and music with quite a h4 bass will be ideal for masking bangs when played at a volume that your dog is happy with.
4. Always draw the curtains or cover the windows to minimise the lights from the fireworks
It’s not only the sound of fireworks that can cause distress for dogs, it’s also the light and flashes across the sky. Leave lights on indoors to reduce the impact of the flashes too.
5. Don’t confine your dog to one room as they may hurt themselves trying to get out, particularly if they become stressed
Dogs may also be most comfortable curled up in their usual spot with you rather than a designated ‘safe place’, so allow them access to all safe areas of the house.
6. Make sure that your dogs are microchipped and that their microchip details are up to date
In the worst-case scenario, any dog that does get out or run away from home while fireworks are going off can be reunited with its owner much more easily if it has been microchipped. Microchipping your dog is now a legal requirement, as of April 2016.
7. If your dog can see that fireworks have no effect on you, this may help decrease their anxiety
Animals are highly perceptive and will notice if you’re behaving unusually. Following your dog around or being overly affectionate may cause them to feel nervous or confused. You can still reassure your pet, by playing with their favourite toy for example but try to behave as normally as possible. The more you change your behaviour, the more anxious your dog may become.
8. Make sure your home and garden are as escape-proof as possible
Make sure all doors and windows are closed firmly. If possible, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to doors that lead outside, especially when people are coming in or out of the house. Secure any escape routes in your garden, just in case, and make sure everyone in the house knows they need to be quick opening and closing external doors.
9. Provide dogs with a long-lasting chew to help keep them distracted
You can buy a Pedigree Jumbone from the shop here at Battersea for your dog to enjoy, and you can also help keep the dogs in our kennels calm by donating a chew to one of our dogs via our online shop to help keep them calm. You could also try stuffing a puzzle toy such as a KONG with layers of food to keep your dog occupied.
10. If your dog is still extremely stressed by fireworks after following our advice, you may want to consult your vet
A vet may be able to provide medication to help reduce your pet’s anxiety – however, any medicinal treatment should always be accompanied by a behaviour management plan.
All about microchipping your dog
How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks – American Kennel Club
BACK TO COMMON BEHAVIOR ISSUES
How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks
By Teresa Traverse
| Sponsored by Pet Releaf
Jun 01, 2022 | 4 Minutes
Preparing For Fireworks
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anxiety holidays 4th of july fireworks
Whether for the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, or another celebration, many dog owners deal with howling, barking, and generally anxious dogs during fireworks. It’s even largely believed that Independence Day is the day when the highest number of dogs run away. But just what are the dogs afraid of?
“It can be the smell. It can be the noise and the flashes of the light,” says Judy Morgan, DVM, of Dr. Judy Morgan’s Naturally Healthy Pets based in Woodstown, New Jersey. Your dog may “tremble, shake, shiver, howl, and bark — some of them get frantic.”
If you are unsure of how your new dog might react, Morgan says that pups that don’t cope well during thunderstorms are likely to get scared of fireworks. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your dog. Here are nine expert-approved tips to prevent your dog from freaking out during fireworks.
1. Keep Your Dog Away From Fireworks
“First of all, don’t take your dogs to fireworks shows,” says Morgan. “And don’t leave them outside during fireworks.” Keeping your dog inside in the evening on the Fourth of July is the best idea, especially if you fear they might not react well.
2. Make Sure Your Pet Has Proper IDEnsure that the information on your pet’s collar is current and make sure your dog is microchipped and has a GPS device. “If they escape, there’s a better chance they’ll get returned,” says Morgan.
3. Create a Safe Haven For Your Dog
Morgan recommends creating a place where your dog will (hopefully) feel comfortable. “You should get your pet used to a calming environment beforehand. Dogs are den animals — they’re looking for that cave to get away from it all.”
Try setting up an area in a quiet space away from windows — such as a basement or a larger closet — so that they can’t hear or see fireworks. Use a crate if that’s where your dog feels safe, and make sure to provide your pup with familiar toys and treats (Morgan will freeze bone broth in ice cube trays).
4. Play White NoiseYou can try leaving a fan, TV, or radio on to help mask the sounds of the fireworks. “There’s some classical music called ‘Through A Dog’s Ear’ that has been shown to have calming effects for dogs,” says Jenn Stanley, certified behavior consultant and professional dog trainer, and co-owner of Awesome Pawsabilities Pet Training & Behavior Consultations based in North Carolina.
5. Comfort Your Dog
If you can, try staying home with your dog or leaving them in the hands of a trusted person. One of Morgan’s relatives usually stays with her dog in the closet to help soothe the animal.
“You absolutely can and should comfort your dog if he’s afraid,” says Stanley. “The key here is in how you do so. It’s important to remain calm and use a soothing, even tone. Petting them can be comforting — long, slow, firm strokes along the length of their body are typically very soothing.”
The one thing to avoid? Seeming frantic in any way, says Stanley. Rapidly saying, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK” in a higher-than-average pitch may make your dog think that there really is something to fear. Try your best to remain calm and reassuring to help your canine companion.
6. Walk Them Before the Fireworks Start
Head out for your long walk before the sun sets to increase the chances that you’ll avoid the sounds. When you do go out, you’ll want to ensure your dog is secure on a leash before your walk.
“Double-check the fit of your dog’s collar or harness before going outside. A leash, even if you have a fenced-in area, is a great added safety measure to help keep your dog close to you and under control should they get startled,” says Stanley.
7. Desensitize Your Dog to the Sounds of FireworksIf you suspect your dog will freak out at the sound of fireworks, try playing sounds of fireworks (softly) so your dog is used to hearing them. Try pairing a video of the sounds of fireworks with a treat your dog likes, suggests Stanley, in a process called counter-conditioning.
“The volume should be low enough that your dog can notice it, but does not show signs of stress like panting, pacing, leaving the area or trying to hide,” says Stanley. “We call this keeping the dog ‘below threshold,’ and it makes it possible for learning to take place. If the dog is overwhelmed, they’re looking to escape the situation and are not going to be nearly as capable of learning that it’s not a threat.” Her other tips including increasing the volume gradually, varying the source of the sound, and using different recordings.