Watching the sky lit in red, green and blue sparkles makes us happy and cheerful. 🎆 However, the echoing sound after the fireworks can be painful for the ears. It can even become a traumatising experience, especially for dogs, who hear better than us.
The spectacle and the booming sound can leave your dog in an anxious and panicked state. The impact is similar on street dogs, who often hide in the sewers during fireworks.
Many dogs tremble or whine in response to the sounds, which causes their owner to give them calming medications. However, rushing them to the vet can be tiresome or impossible during the festivities. You also don’t want to overmedicate your dog whenever he gets anxious since this does not solve the issue. Many calming medications (like Calmivet) only make your dog appear calm from the outside. They’re still very anxious inside their head but feel physically ‘paralysed’. These meds might make your dog’s anxiety worse in the end.
Here are 5 tips to help reduce your dog’s firework anxiety.
1. Sound training
You can teach your dog to cope with the sounds by setting up a training session throughout the year. This would help them be less anxious and more patient during the fireworks.
There are many applications available online that allow you to play firework sounds. 💥 Train your dog by playing the sounds at different noise levels until your dog excepts you to play it again. Repeat the process only when your dog is comfortable and doesn’t whine.
Gradually turn up the sound and include a variety of firework sounds to make your dog accustomed to the noises. Don’t forget to feed them snacks or gift them plushies as a reward for remaining calm during training sessions.
2. Use an anxiety vest
An anxiety vest is a form of a comfortable garment that helps apply gentle pressure on your dog’s torso. This is a good way to calm them, much like swaddling. Train your dog to wear the pressure wrap before fireworks to reduce discomfort.
You could customise the wrapping by adding a stretchy fabric around your dog’s chest and shoulders. There are multiple websites and pet shops that retail shirts that have a patent hugging design to soothe the dog from sudden stress. This is also a great way to get through thunderstorms ⚡️, hence why it’s also called Thundershirt.
3. Pre-fireworks workout
Take your dog on a long walk or go to a peaceful location to help them calm their nerves. You could also take them to a dog cafe or park to meet their buddies before the fireworks. 🐕
A mentally and physically exhausted dog might sleep early and react less to fireworks. You can plan a fun activity to wear them down, like bikejoring, or bring them to daycare so they can play all day long.
4. Early meals and potty time
It’s better to feed your dog a little earlier and make sure they complete their potty trips before the fireworks start. This would be helpful as your dog will be uncomfortable stepping out for potty breaks during the fireworks and will most likely not want to eat. A lot of dogs run away during fireworks, so make sure to not let them off-leash! Also don’t leave them in the garden without your supervision. 👀
However, don’t forget to give your dog enough time to finish his food and digest to avoid a rush during this already tense period.
5. Distract your dog
Keeping your dog occupied during the firework will help them fight their anxiety. You can give them noisy toys that ignite their curiosity and keep them diverted. Squeaky toys might not be your (ears’) favourite, but you were probably gonna get deaf from the fireworks anyway. 🤣
You can stuff the toys with goodies or treats to keep them focused. Entertain them with a puzzle, kong or play tug with them.
Some more tips
Apart from the mentioned tricks, don’t forget to muffle the outside noise by closing the window and putting your dog in a noise-proof room. Stay with them and give comfort by petting them. Try not to coddle them too much. It’s important that they feel safe with you and seek your comfort, but you don’t want to make them feel like they have all reason to be afraid. Use a happy, uplifting voice instead of the melodramatic “Aww my sweet baby… I’m so sorry, come here, poor thing!”. 😅
You can also turn on some calming music or put on a relaxing show on DogTV. 📺 It’s been proven that dogs watch TV, they just see things differently, which DogTV takes into account. It’s really fun to see your dogs react to what’s on and ours are much more relaxed since we have it. Also great for when you’re away and have to leave them at home.
You should remember that your dog’s fireworks anxiety is an intuitive response that needs a multi-layered approach. Hence, try your best to make your fur buddy calm and comfortable during the fireworks. 😌
Is your dog afraid of fireworks? What’s your coping strategy?