Written by: Kayleigh Sullivan KPA CTP, CPDT-KA
The Fourth of July is an exciting time filled with barbecues, fireworks, and celebrations. While it may be a thrilling experience for us humans, our furry friends may not share the same enthusiasm. Many dogs are sound-sensitive and can become anxious or scared by the loud noises associated with fireworks. As a responsible pet guardian, it's crucial to take proactive steps to ensure your dog feels safe and secure. In this blog post, we will provide you with essential tips on how to support your sound-sensitive dog who is scared of fireworks
during the Fourth of July celebrations.
First and foremost, if you are
considering bringing your dog or
puppy to a fireworks show—don’t! Exposing your dog or puppy to a fireworks show can be extremely frightening for them. This scary experience can sensitize them to loud sounds, making future fireworks displays, thunderstorms, or other noise events even more traumatic for them. The negative association developed during the initial exposure can be long-lasting and challenging to overcome. Trust us when we say it is not worth the potential consequences—leave your dog at home.
For our dogs who already have sound sensitivity issues follow these steps below:
Create a Safe Space:
Designate a quiet, comfortable area in your home where your dog can retreat to during fireworks displays. Ideally, choose an interior room without windows or a basement where outside sounds are muffled. Ensure this space is equipped with your dog's favorite toys, bedding, and water. Encourage your dog to spend time in this area before the Fourth of July, associating it with positive experiences and rewards.
Minimize the noise level by closing windows, curtains, and blinds. Use soundproofing materials like thick curtains or even sound-dampening panels to further reduce external sounds. Turning on white noise AND calming music (Through a Dog’s Ear, available on Spotify), can also help mask the sound of fireworks and create a more soothing environment.
Stay Home and Provide Company:
If possible, stay at home with your dog during the fireworks. Your presence will provide them with a sense of security. Avoid leaving your dog alone during this time, as it can heighten their anxiety. If you have plans for Fourth of July, consider hiring a pet sitter or asking a trusted friend or family member to keep your dog company.
It's important to know: it's okay to comfort your dog if they are scared of fireworks! You cannot reinforce fear, meaning if you comfort them they are not more likely to be afraid in the future. In fact, if you comfort and support them, they are less likely to be afraid next time. Supporting them with your normal everyday tone of voice and mannerisms can provide comfort. Ignoring them can cause more distress and panic.
Focus on Indoor Activities:
On the day of the Fourth of July, reduce outdoor walks in the evenings to quick potty breaks when necessary. Longer walks should be planned for the morning. Fireworks shows tend to be in the evening, but neighbors may be blowing off their own personal fireworks throughout the day. Depending on your neighborhood, be prepared to stay mostly indoors the entire day or the long weekend.
Engage in interactive sessions indoors for physical and mental exercise when fireworks are not going off this could include activities:
Hide a treat and seek (scent games)
Train a new trick
Tossing a ball up and down the stairs
Chase games such as keep away
Indoor obstacle courses
Game of tug
Provide a Safe Distraction:
Offer your dog a special treat or a long-lasting chew toy to keep them occupied. Distractions like food puzzles or stuffed Kongs can be particularly useful during fireworks displays. The act of chewing can have a soothing effect on dogs, promoting relaxation and diverting their attention away from the loud noises outside.
Explore various anxiety-relief techniques that can help your sound-sensitive dog stay calm. These may include:
ThunderShirts or anxiety wraps: These snug-fitting garments provide gentle pressure, which can have a calming effect on many dogs.
Calming supplements: Consult with your veterinarian about the possibility of using calming supplements or natural remedies, such as diluted lavender scent, to help alleviate your dog's anxiety. Depending on your dog's stress levels, these may or may not help.
Pheromone diffusers: These synthetic pheromone products can create a sense of comfort and security for your dog. The most common one is called Adaptil.
Consult with Your Veterinarian: If your dog's anxiety during fireworks displays is severe or persistent, consult with your veterinarian. They can provide medical-related professional advice or prescribe anti-anxiety medications if necessary.
The Fourth of July celebrations can be a challenging time for most dogs, make sure to pay extra care to your sound-sensitive Fido. With proper preparation and care, you can help your pup navigate through this frequently anxiety-provoking occasion by creating a safe space, minimizing noise, providing company, staying indoors, offering distractions, and exploring anxiety-relief options.