Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
Whenever the Fourth of July rolls around, many dog owners feel a sense of dread and nervousness. That’s because the majority of dogs do not like loud, thundering noises, and multiple days of fireworks can send them into a fury of barking, howling, and general anxiousness. Plus, it is thought that Independence Day itself and the days before and after are when the highest number of canines run away from home.
This can lead to a stressful and scary experience for both you and your four legged friend. In today’s article, we’ll go over methods you can use to calm your dog during fireworks and help keep them from running away.
Why Don’t Dogs Like Fireworks?
It’s not exactly known why dogs don’t like fireworks, but it almost certainly has to do with the noise and, possibly, the smell and flashes of light. Dogs have a much more sensitive sense of hearing than we do, which can make the loud booms even more intense. Additionally, as humans we know what the loud sounds and flashes of light are. The same is not true for your pup. When they see and hear unusual, dangerous seeming sounds, they fear it and their instinct is to run away as quickly as possible or hide.
How do you know if your dog won’t like fireworks?
Well, if your dog has never experienced fireworks before or if they are a puppy, then you can’t be completely sure. Some dogs are more okay with the 4th of July festivities than others. However, if your canine is scared of thunder or runs at the sight and sound of firecrackers, then it’s a safe bet they will cower or run at the sight, smell, and sound of fireworks. What makes the 4th of July even worse than a bad thunderstorm, however, is that the sounds are much closer to the ground, and your dog knows it.
So, what can you do to help both yourself and your furry friend?
How to Calm Dogs during Fireworks
- Keep your dog away from fireworks. This may seem glaringly obvious, but if your dog has a history of being scared of fireworks, don’t bring them to a show and don’t let them go outside if there is a show near your home.
- Ensure your dog has proper identification. As we mentioned, the days on and around the 4th of July see many dogs run away. If you are letting your pup outside during fireworks, make sure they have updated tags or a GPS tracker in case they make a break for it.
- Create a secure, safe space. If your dog sleeps in a crate, then it might be a good idea to keep them in it during any fireworks near your home. If not, then confine them in a bathroom or other small room with his or her bed, toys, and blankets. A small space may help them feel more comfortable and secure, and you can use music or white noise to try to drown out the booming. The space should be away from windows so they don’t see the flashes of light.
- Comfort your canine. If your dog is scared or anxious during fireworks, then do what you can to calm them down. Speak to them in a soothing voice, tell them it’s “okay”, and pet and cuddle them if you think it will help. Avoid talking to them with a nervous, loud, or high pitched voice, as that may make your dog think something bad or serious is actually going on.
- Tire your dog out. Most dogs will be calmer if they are tired or have less energy. Play with them, take them for a long walk, or throw the ball around with them before any fireworks start. Help them use as much energy as possible before the fireworks, and your pup will hopefully have less of it to be anxious and scared later in the night.
- Talk to a trainer or your vet. If your dog is so bad during fireworks that it is negatively impacting their life or your life, you may want to speak with a professional. A vet might decide to prescribe your pet a calming medication, and a trainer can help desensitize your dogs to fireworks and other fears they have gradually over time.
Conclusion: Keep a Close Eye on Your Dog during Fireworks
At the end of the day, if your dog is scared of fireworks, you have to keep a constant close eye on them. The last thing you want is for he or she to run away and get lost in the chaos. Always remember that your dog does not understand what is going on and they are not trying to deliberately annoy you or ruin your Independence Day. Try the methods we laid out and see what works for your pup.
If your vet prescribes your dog medication, remember that you can find it conveniently online at Express Vet Pharmacy.