Hey American pet parents! Boo the dog is back at it again, and even though I’m feeling patriotic and ready to celebrate the upcoming holiday, sometimes fireworks can be “ruff” on pets. Some pets get through July 4th just fine, while other pets get scared and anxious. If your fur baby struggles with loud booming noises, here are some tips for staying calm with your pets and fireworks.
1. Start Early- If you want to acclimate your dog to the sounds they might hear during the 4th of July, you can start preparing ahead of time. A couple months in advance, you can play a recorded sound of fireworks and increase the volume during times that make him content such as before he eats, before a walk or before playing with him. This will allow your dog to associate these normally frightening sounds with something good.
2. Make a Plan– Unless your pet is well adjusted to fireworks, it’s always best practice to leave them indoors with music or the TV on to help mask the noise. If your dog won’t be able to stay at home alone, make arrangements to keep him in a place where there won’t be excessive fireworks, such as at a relative’s home or pet sitter with whom he is familiar. If you will be taking your dog with you to a new place, take your dog there a few times in the days leading up to the holiday so he will be more familiar and comfortable being there on the holiday itself.
3. Create a Safe Space- Before the holiday, think about times when your dog felt the most safe and comfortable. Is it in his crate with his favorite toy? Is it in his dog bed with a blanket? Ensuring your pup has a place he can go where he feels calm and secure is vital to surviving firework season. If he does hear fireworks and gets frightened, you also might try giving him his favorite toy or a treat so he can associate them with something positive. Finally, some pet owners have had success using tools like thundershirts to help anxious animals. These work similarly to swaddling an infant; it gives gentle and constant pressure to help calm anxiety.
4. Stay Calm- Pets can sense a change in mood in their owners, and if you are acting anxious or overly excited about fireworks or your holiday plans, it can create anxiety in your dog. Coupled with the noise of fireworks, your pet can feel completely overwhelmed. If you are home with your dog during fireworks, exuding a calm demeanor will help him relax. Use soothing words and energy, and don’t react to the fireworks. This will communicate to your pet that there is nothing to be concerned about. Furthermore, no matter if you are staying with your dog or leaving during firework viewing, it’s always a good idea to get rid of any excess energy in your dog first by taking him on a long walk to help him feel more relaxed.
5. Identify Your Pet- Despite our best efforts, many pets find ways of escaping during the commotion of fireworks. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal shelters see drastic increases in pets during the Independence Day holiday. Even dogs that are primarily kept indoors can become desperate to escape the sound of fireworks and may break through door screens. All pets should have collars with up to date ID tags, and it’s also a good idea to have your pet microchipped to help locate your pet if he does escape.
So while fireworks can be exciting and fun for our human parents, many of us pets don’t understand them or like them very much. But, with just a few simple steps, you can help ease your fur baby’s stress during firework season. Boo the dog signing off for now and wishing you a puurrrfect holiday!