What says happy 4th of July better than fireworks?
Fireworks are a great way to celebrate the likes of Independence Day, Labor Day, and New Year’s Eve, however, they can be a frightening time for both you and your pets. July 5th is widely reported as the busiest day of the year for animal shelters, due to startled pets running away from the loud pops, bangs, and whizzes. It’s important to be prepared to help protect your precious pooch - in this blog we are looking at why dogs fear fireworks, the key signs of firework fear, and the top ten ways to keep them calm and relaxed this July 4th.
Why are dogs scared of fireworks?
For our four-legged friends occasions such as Independence Day are just normal days, they have no way to know or expect the loud bangs from fireworks like we do so they may end up startled or thinking something bad is happening. It is estimated that 1 in 2 dogs show some fear of fireworks.
How loud are fireworks to dogs?
Dog’s senses are different from ours; their hearing is 4 times better than the average human. This means that they hear across higher frequencies and at greater distances than us so even if a firework sounds distant to you it is likely to sound much louder and closer to your dog which is why it’s difficult for them to escape the loud bangs.
How to tell if your dog fears fireworks
Look out for signs such as:
- Mild signs – shaking, pacing up and down, heavy breathing or panting
- Moderate signs – bark more than usual, trembling, hiding, drooling
- Severe signs – the destruction of toys or other in-home items, soiling unexpectedly
It’s good to know frightened dogs tend to bolt and run long distances to get away from whatever scared them – so make sure they’re kept in a safe, comfortable environment they can’t easily escape if scared.
Ten ways to keep your dog calm and relaxed this holiday
It’s important to be prepared so here are our top ten tips to keep your pooch calm and relatively stress-free this holiday.
1. Be PreparedMake sure your microchip information is up to date so if your dog manages to escape you can be easily contacted. Also, if you double check their tag on the collar is up to date – the more ways to identify them the better chance you have of them being returned if the worst happens. Be sure you have a recent photo of your dog just in case the worst happens, and you need to make a lost pet poster.
2. Create a safe space for your dog
Try making a comforting, cozy den for your pooch, this way they have a familiar safe space to hide if they become frightened. We recommend our cage sets for the perfect cozy den set-up. The cover and bumper will help block out any flashes and make them feel super safe. A cage cushion, blanket, and their favorite toys will make sure your dog has the perfect retreat to escape to in moments of fear and anxiety.
Who doesn’t want a cuddle when they’re scared? If you notice signs of firework fear, give your pup some extra cuddles to reassure them that everything is okay. Make sure you remain calm and are using a soothing tone of voice to reassure them – if they think you’re scared they may pick it up on it and begin to copy your behavior.
We recommend walking your dogs in the daytime prior to fireworks going off – maybe a long walk or a play in the dog park with their pooch pals to help tire them out so that they have less energy and feel like they’ve had plenty of quality time with you. This way they may be less likely to get worked up and are more likely to sleep through everything. If you must walk them in the evening, we advise on-leash only when fireworks are going off but ideally if you can walk them just before the fireworks it should be a calmer experience for both them and you.
5. Anti-anxiety products
If you’re really concerned about your dog why not try giving your vet a visit and asking if there’s anything they can recommend or prescribe to help ease your dog’s anxiety through the holiday.
Just like us humans, carbs can help your dog feel full and sleepy, try feeding them just before the fireworks to see if it helps them sleep through it.
7. Distract your dog with tasty treats
Distraction is a good way to help ease some of your dog’s anxiety, especially if they’re restless during the fireworks. Try to keep them mentally stimulated so they’re not focused on the loud noises around them.
8. Stay inside
By keeping your dog indoors the noise will be a little bit quieter for them and there will be fewer ways for them to escape. If you try keeping the window and blinds shut as well, this will help muffle some of the sound and light from the fireworks which could help to keep them calm.
9. White noise
Another way to keep your pup distracted from the fireworks is by playing some white noise playlists in the background or putting the TV on the channel you would usually watch in an evening for a little bit of familiarity. The noise will help mask the sound of the fireworks whilst giving your dog something else to focus on.
10. Desensitize your dog
In the run-up to the holidays try desensitizing your dog, you can help them to acclimatize to loud noises by playing loud action films with gunshots or firework sounds. Work on building the volume up gradually at your dog’s pace and make sure to reward them with toys and treats so they have positive associations with loud noises. Ensure that their cozy den from step 2 is set up so that they can also get used to using it when they feel scared.