Dogs and fireworks just don't mix.
As Americans celebrate the birthday of our great nation this weekend with grand fireworks displays, most of our dog friends don’t think that this type of celebration is much fun at all. The array of pops, crackles and booms could create a major panic attack in some pets. Celebrations go on for days and, from the dog’s perspective, it is a never-ending experience, filled with stress.
Although sound sensitivity is a common phobia, watching your dog go through the anxiety is no fun.
So, just what is the problem and why do most dogs have such an aversion to the loud noises of fireworks?
A dog’s hearing is 10 times more sensitive than a human’s; therefore the loud, unpredictable bangs are cause for a very fearful, stressful reaction. Unfortunately, you cannot reason with them that the event will be over in a short while.
Symptoms of a stressed dog:
- Eyes wide
- Frantic movement
- Barking excessively
- Hiding in places they don’t normally go
- Trembling, shaking
- Cannot relax
There are a few things you can do to help with safety and provide as much comfort as possible to your canine companion:
- Do not take your dog to a fireworks display.
- Keep your dog inside. In a high panic situation, your dog could have the potential to bolt anywhere for safety and it may result in running into the road or somewhere where they may never be found again. Dogs will even dig under fences or jump through closed screens and windows to try to get away from the terrifying noise.
- The basement of your home can provide a safe haven as the noises won't be so loud there.
- Some dogs are sensitive to the flashing light, so be aware of your dog’s light sensitivities and keep it to a minimum — close the shades.
- Crating can create a safe environment for those accustomed to being crated.
- Try distracting with their most sought after prize — their favorite treat!
- Make sure they have up-to-date ID information. The Fourth of July holiday has the highest rate of pet recovery activity.
- When the dog shows signs of fear, we cannot help but want to shower with more cuddling, petting and soothing. Believe it or not this actually reinforces the dog’s fear. They’re thinking, “There must be a reason to be afraid…..”
- Consider taking the dog to a friend’s house that will be noise free of fireworks.
- Use Rescue Remedy, which assists in calming naturally.
- Use a Thundershirt, which provides gentle pressure that calms the nervous system.
- Use a pheromone based product that assists the dog in stressful situations.
In the future, keep these tips in mind to prepare your dog (or new puppy) for fireworks:
- During the critical impressionable stage (3-5 months), try introducing different noises that the dog will experience through life, including different loud sounds.
- Several days or weeks before the fireworks display, desensitize your dog to the noise by getting a fireworks recording (video or audio) and play periodically, starting out with low volume and gradually increasing. Reward with treats and/or soft praise.
Please have a safe, enjoyable holiday!