Does your dog become fearful and anxious during firework displays? Does he/she jump or chew on furniture, scratch at gates or doors, hide, or even try to run away? A dog’s sense of hearing is much greater than ours. So our dogs can react to noises that don’t affect us. Since it’s impossible to request quieter fireworks, here are some tips to help keep your dog calm and safe during the noisy firework displays.
1. Make sure you know the exact time fireworks will be displayed. And since there could be neighbors who hold firework gatherings, ask your neighbors if they are planning any such activities so that you can prepare.
2. Feed and walk your dog before the fireworks begin. Once the noise starts, your dog may be too anxious to eat and too nervous to walk. Also, due to the possibility of your dog running away during these noisy events, make sure that your dog has ID tags.
3. Desensitize your dog. To help prevent the fear of loud noises, expose your dog to other sounds a few weeks or months prior to the firework season. Play a CD that has strange sounds, such as CD’s containing “scary” sounds.
4. Prepare your house. This will help keep your dog calm and lessen fear and anxiety.
*Keep some lights on so that your dog will feel more secure.
*Provide your dog with a little “den” where he/she can feel more safe. Crates and kennels are good choices, but if you don’t have one, you can simply create a “den” by placing a sheet over a table or chair. Put favorite treats and toys inside the den, and adding any of your unwashed clothing will help as well.
*Find ways to lessen the noise. Close the curtains in the room. If your dog will stay in a crate or kennel, cover it up with a blanket. This will also stop the flashes of light that may scare your dog. Just make sure that it is easy to breathe inside the crate or kennel.
*Turn on the TV or play music to drown out the noise. Classical music is especially calming to pets. Play the TV or music loud enough so that it’s heard over the fireworks, but make sure it’s not too loud or it may bother your dog.
*Remove sharp items from the room so that your dog does not hurt himself in case he jumps or runs around due to fear.
5. Give your dog some calm assurance. Remain calm during the noisy time and reassure your dog that all is fine. But don’t go overboard as this can actually make the behavior worse (a form of positive reinforcement). Behave normally and remain calm when your dog looks at you to see your response to the noise. If your dog seeks comfort, do not ignore him/her. When behaving calmly, give treats or a favorite toy.
If at all possible, do not leave your dog alone. Just knowing that you are near will be reassuring to your dog.
6. Use homeopathic remedies such as “Pet Calm” to help keep your dog calm. You can also use lavender since it has a calming affect. Use a lavendar spray or gently bruise the leaves and flowers of some fresh lavendar plants. You can also give medication, but be sure to consult with your veterinarian before giving.