Keeping your dog calm during fireworks or thunder
4th of July is right around the corner and while that means BBQ and fun for humans, it can be extreme stress and anxiety for our pups. This also means summer thunderstorms which can frighten your pup. If you have a dog that is afraid of fireworks, thunder, or any other loud noises, check out our tips below.
A Firework or clap of thunder is a loud unexpected noise that dogs can not make sense of. When they hear the boom, the sound triggers your dogs’ nervous system and makes them want to run to safety because of their natural instinct. They can’t comprehend where it’s coming from so their instinct is to run and find protection far from where they think the noise came from. While you can’t stop the fireworks or thunder altogether, there are things you can do to help your pup not be as stressed during the brilliant display in the sky.
Give these suggestions a try and let us know which works best for your dog in the comments below.
Create a “safe space”
If your dog is normally crated while you are gone, you may consider putting them in their crate with a chew toy. Crate trained pups treat this as their “home” and feel more calm in the place they spend a lot of time. Consider putting a blanket over the crate to help block out some of the noise. If your dog is not crate trained, create a blanket fort under a desk or table where the sides are covered. Place your dogs bed underneath so they feel like they are in a “cave” and less susceptible to outside noise. Our dog hides in the bathroom when he is scared because it’s in the middle of the house and small so he can curl up and feel safer.
If you are home while the fireworks are taking place, you can distract your pup by playing with them during this time. Playing chase or hide and seek is a great way to keep them engaged with you instead of the outside world.
Focusing your dog's attention on their favorite toy or treat will take their mind off the outside noises. If you aren't going to be home with your pup during the noise, try leaving a treat that will take your dog time to work on. Some peanut butter frozen in a Kong is a great way to keep your dog entertained trying to lick all of the peanut butter out of it. Or try a safe bone that will take your dog a long time to work on. We love the Benebone in Maple Wood for keeping your pup busy at any time. Dogs with sensitive stomachs can benefit from chewing on this bone at any time without the risk of digesting rawhide which can be harmful to some dogs.
Try a Thundershirt
Wrapping your dog in a tight “shirt” can help give some dogs a sense of security. Try the Thundershirt and see if it helps your pup be less stressed during this time. While this might not completely calm them, it can help reduce the anxiety and be combined with the other recommendations. Our dogs wear the Thundershirt anytime there may be fireworks or thunder and although it does not prevent them from being scared, it calms them enough to stop shaking during this stressful time.
Block out the noise
Some quick suggestions to drown out the loud boom are:
Play music in the background or turn on the tv
Make sure all doors and windows are securely closed
Keep animals indoors closest to the middle of the house
Turn the TV on animal planet or another show with lots of background noise (i.e. not a talk show)
Tiring your dog out before the festivities is a natural way for them to reduce stress and be less aware of the outside noise. Taking them for a longer walk or playing fetch with your pup can help them sleep during this time and not be as wide awake hearing the booms. They may still be scared but will have less energy to be pacing during this time.
Try essential oils, medication or CBD
Before trying one of these alternatives, be sure to check with your veterinarian. Lavender oil is great for reducing anxiety for humans as well as dogs. When diluted, this can be safe and gentle for dogs by rubbing it on their ears, fur or skin in a massaging motion. If you are concerned about them immediately licking it off, keep it to the back of their head or ears where they can not reach. CBD oil is still being researched but is shown to help reduce anxiety in pets as well. Medications can be disbursed from your vet and will combat any anxiety they may be feeling.
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