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Keeping Your Dog Calm During Fireworks Season

The crackling bursts of fireworks can be exciting for humans, but all those loud noises and flashing lights often have dogs cowering in fear. As fireworks season ramps up around Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, dog owners need strategies to ease their pup’s anxiety. With some planning and preparation, you can help your four-legged friend stay relaxed when the pyrotechnics begin.

Create a Calm Home Environment

Try to minimize the impact of outside noises by keeping your dog inside a comfortable, familiar environment. Make sure they can access their favorite resting spots, toys, and water bowl. Close the windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks. You can also turn on fans or play soothing music like classical or reggae to help block the loud bangs.
Some dogs feel most secure in small spaces when frightened. If your dog prefers getting under tables or hiding in closets, keep these spots clear and accessible. Just be careful not to accidentally trap them in corners.

Use Anxiety Wraps and Calming Aids

Special wraps or vests apply gentle, steady pressure that can have a calming effect on dogs. These anxiety wraps activate pressure points to release serotonin, lowering stress. They work similarly to swaddling an infant or the “thunder shirt” vets recommend during storms. Calming wraps like the Thundershirt are adjustable and can be worn for extended periods.
There are also a variety of over-the-counter treats and medications to help relax dogs. Natural calming aids like chews contain ginger, melatonin, chamomile, CBD oil or pheromones to reduce anxiety. Prescription sedatives may be recommended in extreme cases but discuss options with your vet beforehand. Always follow product instructions carefully.

Start Desensitization Training

With some patience and positive reinforcement, you can help minimize your dog’s fear in the long run. Start by playing audio recordings of fireworks at a very low volume during playtime or meals. Reward them with treats for calm behavior. Over multiple sessions, gradually increase the volume as you continue to praise and reassure your pup.
Once they become accustomed to the sound indoors, do the same routine outdoors at a distance from actual fireworks. This counterconditioning changes their negative associations. With time, most dogs will realize the noises are not actually threatening. Consult a certified dog trainer if your pet remains extremely distressed.

Distract Your Dog

When fireworks begin popping, shift your dog’s focus to something positive. Initiate play with a puzzle toy stuffed with treats or engage them with a fun training session. Try teaching them new commands or tricks using high-value bite-sized rewards.
Food puzzles and KONGs filled with peanut butter or wet food will capture their attention and prevent nervous chewing behaviors. You can also hide treats around a room and encourage them to hunt for the goodies. Maintaining mental stimulation is key to taking their mind off the outside world.

Exercise Earlier in the Day

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day well before any fireworks displays start. A long walk, run at the dog park, or rousing game of fetch will help them sleep better at night. But beware of taking them out immediately before or during shows, when startling sights and sounds could cause panic reactions.

Stick To a Soothing Nighttime Routine

Try to keep bedtime rituals consistent no matter what’s happening outside, even keeping room conditions the same year-round. Dim the lights, play soft music, and do some gentle stroking or belly rubs to help them drift off if fireworks continue late into the evening. Staying calm yourself can also help them relax more quickly.

Use Medications Wisely

If your dog shows serious signs of distress like drooling, trembling, hiding or trying to escape despite your best efforts, consult your vet for anti-anxiety meds. Medications may be prescribed for especially high-anxiety dogs or short-term situations like thunderstorms or long fireworks displays. Most veterinary behaviorists recommend starting with the lowest effective dose whenever possible.
Always carefully follow prescription guidelines and never give your dog human over the counter or prescription drugs without checking with your vet first, as many human medicines can be toxic to pets.
Follow these tips and you will be able to keep your dog calm when the fireworks go out.