Dogs love a lot of aspects of Independence Day — like being with family and spending time outside — but nearly unanimously, dogs are not fond of fireworks. The deafening noises and bright lights cause anxiety and stress for many dogs, sometimes leading to destructive behavior.
While fireworks are the highlight of many families’ Fourth of July, dogs are sensitive to nearly every aspect of the experience. Many dogs are sensitive to the sulfur odor of fireworks and hear the fireworks more intensely than you.
And, unlike thunderstorms, your dog is unlikely to become used to fireworks without thoughtful training. Thunderstorms come with barometric pressure changes that dogs sense and occur more frequently, so your dog’s sensitivity is reduced over time. The weather doesn’t change for fireworks, and they only happen once or twice per year.
Ideally, you would condition your dog to be less fearful of loud noises by exposing them to those sounds from puppyhood. However, it’s just days away from Fourth of July, so here are tips you can use right away.
- Make sure your pup is wearing ID tags before the festivities begin.
More dogs escape their yards on July 4th than any other day of the year. Just in case your pup pulls a Houdini, make sure they are wearing a collar with ID tags.
- Keep your dog away from the fireworks.
Help prevent some of your dog’s stress by removing them from the fireworks area. Crate-trained dogs are often most comfortable in their crates with a chew toy during fireworks sessions. Otherwise, choose a room your dog likes, preferably far away from the fireworks — perhaps a bedroom or the family den. (Bonus: keeping them inside your house reduces the risk of escape!)
- Close the blinds and cover the crate.
After choosing a room for your dog to stay while you watch fireworks, try to reduce their access to seeing them. Close the blinds and consider covering their crate with a familiar blanket or towel. (If your dog has a history of shredding fabric when stressed, you may want to block the view with a pile of boxes instead.)
- Drown out the sounds of fireworks.
Play music or turn on the television in your dog’s panic room. A loud box fan or air conditioner can help, too.
- Get professional help.
Still not convinced that your dog can handle fireworks? Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication or pheromone spray to help your dog stay calm.