Family, grilling, watermelon, apple pie and maybe even a nice adult beverage or three, 4th of July is an awesome holiday that kicks summer off right and everyone loves it. Well ALMOST everyone, your dog likely hates the biggest hallmark of the holiday, fireworks. According to a study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science 45% of dogs have a phobia of fireworks. In the U.S that’s over 40 Million dogs! That phobia can turn a fun day of celebration into a night of consoling your frightened and anxious dog. So how can you help your dog have a better 4th? Do you just need to bulk purchase calming chews for dogs? Can you still enjoy the fireworks? Here are some easy tips you can use to work with your pooch and avoid the 4th turning into a negative event!
1: Give your dog a safe space
Dogs are naturally den animals, a smaller enclosed space helps them feel safe and comfortable, this is especially true when it comes to fireworks. A kennel or a small safe area loaded with blankets, comfort toys and other things your dog associates with comfort/positivity is key. This will be where your dog goes to when the booms start and will put their mind at ease. If your dog is not kennel trained there is no time like the present to start, just make sure you get them the right size. While they are in this safe space make sure they have water accessible, being anxious can be thirsty work.
2: Burn off energy earlier in the day
Just like you and I dogs get anxious easier when they have excess energy, that extra energy means they have more calories to put toward being scared or howling when the festivities start. Take your dog out for a good size walk, play fetch, swim, run an obstacle course, etc. whatever it is your dog loves to do that tuckers them out. Try to time this to coincide with a time just slightly before the fireworks start. If fitting in exercise it difficult on the 4th because you are grilling then try to use your time outside to play with rover. Tossing a ball in between burger flips can rack up play time minutes fast and you won’t burn your buns!
3: Get the right gear for your dog
Some dogs will never get over their anxiety without a little bit of help. That’s where making sure you have the right gear comes into play. Here are some of the items that can help your dog deal with those kabooms.
1: Calming Chews for Dogs – Calming chews for dogs like Tevra’s Calming Sniffer Chews can help your dog get calm fast and stay calm throughout the day. Give them to your pup before the sun goes down and it should help them when the sparks fly!
2: Pressure Vest – You’ve probably seen these all over the internet and tv, these vests grip your dog tight, but not too tight, making them feel safe and comforted. These are especially great if you can’t be right next to your dog.
3: Treats: Having some of your dog’s favorite treats nearby when the fireworks start can be a lifesaver. It will help to both distract your dog with deliciousness AND get them to start associating fireworks with something positive. Just remember to feed your dog fewer calories in the morning to make room for treats.
4: A radio or speaker: Playing white noise or music your dog likes at a loud enough volume can help drown out some of the firework noise. While it isn’t foolproof as part of a total package, it can help for sure!
5: Medication (consult with your vet): If nothing else seems to work you just can’t calm your dog, you may need to turn to your vet for a solution. There are many potential solutions they can present you with and most importantly they know what’s right for your dog’s health.
4: Condition your dog:
As we all know dogs are impressively trainable. From bomb-sniffing to helping the visually impaired, dogs can be trained to do it all! That includes being trained to be less fearful of fireworks. The process is fairly simple and isn’t too different from training your dog to do anything. Get a sound effect of fireworks ready on your phone paired with a speaker (here’s a good one on youtube). Play it then give your dog a treat while the BOOM happens. Eventually, over the course of multiple training sessions depending on your dog, rover will positively associate the sound with treats! Your dog will be less freaked out and you get to feel like a patriotic Pavlov!
It’s never easy seeing our beloved pets transform into pile of nerves. The important thing to remember is that while your dog is freaking out they need you to stay calm. If you stress because they are stressed it’ll cause a feedback loop and no one will have a good time. Of course having some calming chews for dogs handy doesn’t hurt either! Did we mention we LOVE our own Calming Sniffer Chews?
Take some time before the holiday and assess you and your dog’s readiness. Start preparing sooner rather than later to ensure you and your dog will have a wonderful 4th!