Read Time: 5 minutes
For some dogs, fireworks are no big deal. Maybe your pup was desensitized to loud noises early in life, or even specifically trained to handle them! But for other dogs, the summer can be a scary time... Planned fireworks shows during holidays like Canada Day and the Fourth of July, and other loud events like airshows, make many dogs anxious and frightened.
Dogs who easily deal with a thunderstorm might still find fireworks stressful – the noises are different, and the lights and crowds hit several of their senses at once. It's even worse when you don't know the fireworks are coming, because it reduces how you can prepare your pup in advance of a stressful evening.
And aside from the fear, fireworks shows can also be dangerous for dogs. For example, more pets run away on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year! Finding ways to keep your dog calm and safe when fireworks are going off protects their physical safety as well as their mental well-being.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do, both in advance and during a fireworks show, in order to make the night a calmer one for you and your dog. Read on to learn more about how you can help your pup feel safe in advance of a fireworks show, and get them (and you!) through it with as little anxiety as possible.
📋 Prepare in advance for fireworks
Help your dog cope with fireworks by planning ahead. Put together a safe haven for your pup in advance, so you have somewhere ready for him to go if you know there will be fireworks -- or if they start going off unexpectedly one night.
Choose a room that's quiet, and where you know she feels comfortable. Think about spaces with a favourite napping spot or ones set off from potential stressors in your home (a washing machine, other pets, children, etc.).
Create positive associations with this area in advance by doing things like putting a favourite toy or blanket in there or setting up a comfortable spot to sleep. It can also help to swap out the toys, or to put a new one in there, in order to keep your dog interested in the room and provide reasons for her to check it out often.
Allow your dog to explore the room as much as you can, and give him space while he’s in there. Make sure there's nothing in the area that can get him into trouble -- for example, a plant he might want to chew on -- so you can keep the vibes positive.
It won't always be possible to prepare your dog in this way -- you might be travelling, or have a new pet and find out he's scared of fireworks as they happen. But if you can, doing this work in advance means your dog won't view this room as scary and unfamiliar if you put him in there during a fireworks show. He may even choose to go in on his own, because he associates the space with comfort and safety.
🎆 How to help your dog once fireworks start
Whether or not you were able to set up a specific safe space for your pup, there are several steps you can take once fireworks begin that can reduce fear and anxiety.
- Get your dog's daily walks in during the daylight hours, when fireworks are unlikely to be set off. (For scheduled fireworks shows on days like Canada Day or Independence Day, cities will put information about start times online.)
- Move your dog to a safe space, whether it's one you've specifically set up or just a room in your house you know he feels comfortable in. Do this before the fireworks start, if you can.
- Have water, toys, and treats in the safe space for your dog, so you don't have to leave her to go get them. Healthybud's Calming Aid treats are natural, delicious, and packed with calming superfood ingredients like L-theanine, hemp oil, and ashwagandha to help reduce anxiety. (Keep in mind, because they are all-natural, they’re not made to be a quick-fix and are better given over time to increase effectiveness).
- Close the windows and curtains in the room to muffle the sounds of the fireworks and hide the bright lights. You can further soften the bangs of the fireworks by putting on music or the television.
- Ignore the fireworks -- if you seem upset or worried, your dog might become more anxious in response. Offer to pay with your dog, but follow his cues if he isn't interested.
🥺 What if nothing helps my dog?
Even after taking all these steps, you may still see signs of fear in your pet during fireworks: pinned-back ears, growling or whining, shaking, fur standing on end, excessive pacing or panting, and either running away or excessive neediness.
A dog who is scared of fireworks might never be completely calm while they're happening, but doing this work to make the situation less scary should help her be calmer and less agitated. If that isn't helping, it might be time to speak to your vet and look into other options.
Some people find that pheromone diffusers help calm their pets. These products work by dispersing calming scents through the air -- for example, with a spray or a plug-in unit. Others have some success with supplements, either on their own or in their food. For example, healthybud's Duck Calming Aid contains stress-reducing and calming ingredients like hemp oil and L-theanine.
And many dogs find it calming to wear a Thundershirt. If you go that route, have your dog wear the shirt several times before fireworks start, and put it on him when he's still calm and happy.
Behavioural therapy, in order to reduce your dog's fear of loud noises over time, is another option. Dogs Trust offers a free online program that helps some dogs reduce their fear of loud noises like fireworks through guided exposure therapy.
With a bit of preparation and these tips at hand, this summer's fireworks shows should be less stressful and more enjoyable for your dog -- and for you!
Supporting your dog's overall health with sustainably sourced and 100%-natural ingredients like the ones in healthybud's products is a great way to help them cope with stressors. Visit our website to learn more.
Scientists have found that dog’s excellent hearing is the reason behind this fear. Dogs hear about twice as many frequencies as humans, and can hear sounds from four times further away. All this sensory input means your canine friend is constantly trying to figure out which sounds are the important ones, so she knows what to react to and what to ignore.
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
- The healthybud team
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is not meant to replace your vet’s advice or prescribed medications, but only to suggest additional options to explore, based on your dog’s condition.