My dog is terrified of fireworks, to the point where it takes me hours to calm him down on the night of Fourth of July. How can I help ease his fears?
From the Editors of The Dog Daily
Fear of fireworks and other loud noises is very common in dogs. Their sensitive ears pick up every ka-boom. When you hear fireworks, you know exactly the noise is. For your dog, the explosion noises trigger the fight-or-flight “run for cover” reflex. For this reason, many owners report their dogs lost on either July 4 or 5.
It is imperative that all owners pay special attention to their dogs on the Fourth of July holiday or during any time when fireworks are to be featured. The Humane Society of the United States suggests that you take the following precautions:
- Do not take your dog to fireworks displays. Keep your dog at home, ideally with a friend or sitter who can ensure your dog’s safety and provide a comforting presence.
- Never leave your dog in the car while you go enjoy the fireworks and other festivities. Even if the weather is mild on this summer’s day, there is often not enough air in cars to keep dogs comfortable for long periods when the windows are rolled up. Plus, someone could take your dog.
- Create a “safe room” in your house where your dog can chill out during noisy fireworks displays. If your dog feels more at home with the radio or television on as background noise, include those devices to provide some familiar sounds.
- Don’t leave your dog alone outside on the Fourth of July. Dogs that normally stay put are likely to find ways of escaping when terror sets in.
- Always keep identification on your dog. In the event that your dog does run away, at least it will have proper ID.
- Hire a sitter. If you plan to go on vacation for the Fourth of July, be sure that a good sitter or trusted friend will be with your dog when the fireworks begin.
Finally, keep in mind that dogs with a strong aversion to loud noises usually cannot be trained to fully tolerate them. Some dogs even develop phobias to lightning and thunder, requiring medical attention. Your veterinarian can provide medication to help your dog relax, but use it only as a truly last resort. Consult with your veterinarian first before going the medication route.