It’s very interesting why some dogs seem unfazed by the sounds of loud bangs and booms of fireworks, while other pups seem like they could have a heart attack at any minute from their nerves and intense shaking. Now that it is summer, fireworks seem to be popping up everyday (and add pop-up thunderstorms to that as well!). My heart breaks for those fur-babies who cannot handle the noise and tremble with agonizing fear. Their anxiety can be debilitating!
The sudden loud noises and unpredictability of fireworks (and thunder) causes many dogs to see them as a threat. It triggers their anxiety and may cause dogs to become restless, pant uncontrollably, pace, cry, or even run away and hide.
I have one dog who senses thunder and fireworks minutes before they explode, while my other pup tries her best to console her brother. So, what are we dog owners supposed to do when the skies open up to those sudden summer thunderstorms and July 4th fireworks that seem to linger every night of the season? Other than cursing at the skies and those disrespectful neighbors (I get so annoyed at myself for getting so angry, but seeing my poor Cody panting and scared out of his wits, I become an overly protective mamma bear! Can you relate?)
Through some research, speaking to vets and just plain old experience with my own dogs over the years, here are a few tips I have found helpful for those blaring, booming, ear-piercing summer nights:
1. Go Indoors: Create a safe and relaxing environment indoors, away from windows if possible, (my dog loves the basement) and play calming music such as classical or jazz. White noise or a box fan may also help alleviate anxiety by drowning out the clamorous sounds from outdoors. Every pet has a place where they feel the most safe and comfortable, whether it’s in their crate, under the bed, or even in a bathtub! Give them a favorite toy or treat, too (we happen to adore Dough ReMia's Doggie Dough-wink, wink!). Hey, you might try spraying the room with lavender or other relaxing essential oils (but don’t go too carried away with that because dogs also have sensitive noses!)
2. Wraps & Earmuffs: If your dog will allow it, try noise cancelling headphones like Mutt Muffs, to help reduce any noise sensitivities. There are also hoodies that can help calm your dog. You can consider anxiety wraps that work to swaddle your dog to help ease its fears. It may help lower their heart rate and decrease other signs of anxiety. If you don’t own a "Thunder Shirt", which seems to be a popular option, you can go online to learn how to make your own.
3. Create Distractions: Try to distract your pup with food that he/she will love. It could be pieces of cut up chicken, peanut butter in an interactive toy like a Kong, or a favorite bone or bully stick that your pup can enjoy chewing while you sit with him/her. Or, go inside and play with your dog during the fireworks display. These activities could also help create a positive association to loud noises in the future. The verdict is still out, but I say if it's working, keep it up!
4. Stay Close: A big part of keeping our dogs calm is helping them feel safe. And, there is nowhere they'd rather be than by your side or sitting on your lap while you are petting and snuggling with them This helps reassure them that they are safe.
5. Stay Calm: Act calm, even if it's challenging. Dogs pick up on cues from their owners, so if we’re anxious, jumpy, nervous or frightened, they feel it and can act that way, too. If you can remain calm and relaxed, this can help them do the same.
6. Tire them out: Exercise is always important for your dog. On a night you know there will be fireworks, like Independence Day, make it a point to work them out that much more which may help them sleep better.
7. Calming Aids/Supplements: Sometimes, the difference between a stressed dog and a calm dog is in deciding to use calming agents. Many dogs seem to respond well to CBD oil as it has become increasingly popular for dogs. There are many varieties available, but it would be best to speak to your veterinarian for their expert advice on what is best for your dog because like anything, there could be risk factors. These calming agents are “only meant to take the edge off, not to make them drunk or stuporous,” Dr. Geffen- veterinarian.
Whatever you find works best for your pup, I hope you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July with a calm and happy dog.
If you have other tips, tricks or suggestions, we’d love for you to share them with us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*You can find many of the items listed above on Amazon or at your other favorite pet stores.