How to Keep Your Dog Calm During the 4th of July
How to help your pet through this fun but noisy holiday
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in a doomsday shelter) you’ve probably noticed a lot of fireworks going off lately, of both the illegal and “safe and sane” (but still noisy) kind. And if you have a pet, you know that the loud booms are especially unsettling for our furry friends.
To dogs, consistent loud noises and bright, flashing lights can cause a lot of distress, making the 4th of July (and the weeks before and after) one of the biggest times of the year for pet stress.
First, it’s important to recognize the many ways dogs can show signs of stress and anxiety. These signs can include: heavy panting, drooling, pacing, hiding, or trying to escape, trembling, potty accidents, wide eyes, and whining or barking. Pay attention to your dog and learn to recognize these signs or any other abnormal behavior.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help your dog overcome their fireworks-related anxiety. First and foremost, remember that pets don’t enjoy or even understand celebrations the way we do—what seems like an exciting and beautiful patriotic display to us just baffles and frightens dogs. Keep their environment as calm and soothing as you can, and if it’s at all possible, encourage your dog to sleep through the fireworks. (Spoiler: Long walks and ferocious fetch sessions help here.)
Here are some of the best tips we’ve tried with easily spooked pups.
Keep Your Dog(s) Inside During the Fireworks
This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people take their pets with them to enjoy a fireworks show. Not only is it scary for dogs to be out in the open or in a car with loud noises all around them, but it can also cause them to react in fear and run away. Keep in mind that fireworks may be enjoyable for humans, but they can be traumatizing for pets. If there is no other option, be sure to keep your dog’s tag and collar on at all times, and make sure your dog is chipped. This will make it infinitely easier to track down your pup should the unthinkable happen.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Tiring your dog out is a great way to ensure they sleep through the fireworks finale, which will give you all the freedom in the world to enjoy the show without worrying about your pet. An extra-long hike or ball-chasing session should do the trick, but make sure your dog is physically fit for the extra workout or it could lead to other long-term health issues.
Try Calming Treats
It’s important to do your research and consult your vet before giving your dog any calming treats or CBD tinctures. We’ve tried and loved NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid Dog Soft Chews, which are chock-full of natural and active ingredients (vitamin B1, L-tryptophan, and melatonin) that promote calm and restfulness. We give our 70-pound dog four chews about 30 minutes before any high-stress event, coupled with reassuring petting and his security blanket, and it really makes a difference. While it’s tempting to give an anxious pet treats daily, check with your vet as even OTC treatments can cause digestive issues.
A note on CBD for dogs:
While many dog owners have reported success using CBD oil to treat anxiety, there is currently no scientific data on how using CBD oil affects dogs. Because CBD products are not yet regulated, meaning consistency and purity are not always validated, check with your vet for the proper dosage for your pet’s breed and size.
Try Soothing Sounds
If it’s bedtime and both you and your pup are having trouble dozing off, try a white noise machine, fan, or even the TV. The soothing and familiar sounds can help drown out some of the noise outside and re-runs might help you fall asleep more easily than an exciting new show. However, if the booms from the fireworks are too loud to drown with a fan or TV, turn up the music.
A 2002 study found that music with a tempo of 50-60 beats per minute can greatly relax dogs, which means it’s time to make some classical, reggae, and soft rock mixes on Spotify for your pup. You can also purchase a device specifically geared towards dogs like the RelaxoPet Subliminal Sound Calming Aid.
Create a Zen Spot
Chances are your dog runs and hides, tail in between legs when he hears a loud noise. By giving your dog the choice to leave a situation, you increase their confidence in dealing with uncertain or stressful moments. When choosing a “safe space” for your dog, look for a spot that is quiet, easily accessible, close enough that you can check on them, temperature-controlled, and big enough for your dog to stretch out as he/she needs. Be sure to provide water and any other comforting objects your dog enjoys, such as a security blanket (we like the ones from PetFusion) or safe chew toys. If your dog is feeling extra jumpy, check out the Thundershirt Anxiety Jacket, which is designed to apply gentle, constant pressure to calm anxiety, fear, and over-excitement.