What can I do to help my dog with anxiety over fireworks?
I’m sure you’ve asked that question every year about this time. If your dog is afraid of fireworks, and other loud noises like this, Independence Day can more more of a struggle than a celebration. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help alleviate your dog’s stress.
First, let’s look at why dogs may be afraid of fireworks.
- Sudden, loud noises can be startling to dogs. While we know the noise is coming, your dog does not. He doesn’t know that, what looks like a shooting star to him, will end with what sounds like a gun shot. We get startled by unexpected, loud noises. It’s only natural that our dogs will, too.
- Your dog has much more sensitive hearing than you do. Both his sense of smell and sense of hearing are more bionic than a human’s. The noise is magnified to him.
Having an appreciation for why your dog is feeling anxious can help you create a safer environment for him. So how can you help ease the anxiety when fireworks are involved?
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise the day you know he’ll experience fireworks. A tired dog won’t react quite so violently.
- Keep your dog inside, away from the action. He’ll be happier if someone is there with him, but if he’s going to be alone, provide a white noise, such as a fan. He may also feel safer in a small area, such as his crate, or the bathroom.
- Give your dog something to take his mind off the situation. Providing him with a treat such as a new bone, or a Kong, filled with peanut butter, may help distract him.
- A Thunder Shirt can help alleviate anxiety for your dog. These are the same concept as swaddling infants; they provide gentle, constant pressure to to help calm your pet. Our local Lowe’s had a display of these at the front of the store, and pet stores would probably sell these as well, if you don’t have time to order online.
I hope these suggestions help reduce your dog’s stress this year as you celebrate our nation’s freedom. One last tip is to be sure your dog has visible ID on him. In the event that he is outside, becomes afraid, and runs, you want to be sure someone knows where to return him. Be safe!