Dogs and Fireworks: How to Keep Your Pup Calm
Summertime is synonymous with backyard barbecues, beach time, and, unfortunately for some dogs, fireworks. However, you can help manage your dog’s fear of fireworks by following these simple guidelines.
WHY ARE DOGS AFRAID OF FIREWORKS?
Dogs associate familiar sounds with feelings. Think about how your fur kid may get excited when he hears you coming home at the front door—the sound of the door is synonymous with the joy of seeing you! Negative pairing works the same way. If your pup has been startled by an unexpected firework before, he’s likely to get frightened by similar sounds in the future. It’s up to pet parents to understand and manage the emotions our dogs associate with sounds, sights, people, and places.
Not Enough Socialization
Dogs aren’t born able to recognize all strange noises; they learn through experience. Start gradually socializing your pup when he’s 7 to 16 weeks of age so that he can learn to handle fireworks and other potentially overwhelming situations.
If your dog is sensitive to noises like the vacuum cleaner or the lawn mower, his fear may spread to other loud, unexpected noises. Fireworks and thunderstorms are prime examples.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DOG’S FEAR OF FIREWORKS
Incorporate Sound Therapy
Sound therapy involves gradually exposing your dog to audio recordings of fireworks and other startling noises. Play these sounds at a low volume around your dog and very gradually increase the volume as he gets used to each sound level. Acclimating your dog takes time and should not be rushed—remember that your objective is to make him feel secure.
Provide Calming Music
If your dog is exposed to fireworks or other frightening noises before he is completely desensitized, soothing music may help him relax and drown out the undesirable noises. Try to come up with a playlist of calm music that he can listen to while fireworks are going off.
Set an Example
Dogs often take cues from their humans to decide how to respond in certain situations. If you stay calm and comfort your dog, he’ll likely be encouraged to do the same.
Consider Medication and Therapy
Consider consulting your veterinarian for herbal remedies, like muscle relaxation, or prescribed medications that provide calming effects, like an over the counter dog sedative. Pheromone therapy may also help control the side effects of sound phobias.
Hire a Behaviorist
If your dog seems to get riled up during loud noises no matter what you do, consult a professional. Intense fear can sometimes lead to aggression, so you’ll need to get your dog the care that he needs before things get out of hand.
MAKE FIREWORKS A BLAST
Let your dog join in on the fun in a safe and healthy way. Pair fireworks with something positive like special treats or extra play time. Even if your dog’s fear of fireworks never completely vanishes, you can associate them with happy things to help alleviate any distress.an help manage your dog’s fear of fireworks by following these simple guidelines.
More pets run away on the Fourth of July than on any other day—make sure you know what to do in case your dog gets loose.