Here it comes again. That one time a year where we are guaranteed a few nights of loud noises followed by the sky lighting up time and time again. For most people the 4th of July means the smell of barbeque sauce, the sound of drunk friends and the sight of the night sky blazing with every color of the rainbow.
For our dogs though, the next week is filled with merciless thundering, the smell of smoke and the sight of the sky falling. Pretty intense stuff.
It’s no wonder that so many pooches are petrified of fireworks. To a dog, what’s there really to like?
Fireworks are not beautiful and fun to the dog population. They don’t understand what’s going on and the experience scares the hell out of them.
As loyal companions to our dogs it’s our job to make sure they get through the next week with as little trauma as possible. For those dogs that are not yet effected by the 4th of July fanfare, we need to make sure they don’t develop any nervousness, and it’s up to us to make all those doggies that already have the fear of fireworks instilled as comfortable as possible.
Dogs that aren’t afraid . . . yet
If your dog is still cool with fireworks there are a few things we can do to make sure he doesn’t take a turn for the worse this year.
- Leave them at home while you go out and watch the fireworks – Although your dogs is fine with them now, is it really necessary to bring them to ground zero and take a chance that this will be the year they take a turn for the worse.
- Engage them in something – If you’re home with your dog during a nearby fireworks display do something fun to distract them from taking note of the noise. Play games, give them a special bone or practice some basic obedience.
- Don’t give them affection if they seem a little nervous – I know every fiber of you being will be screaming out to you to comfort your dog as he shows some signs of anxiety, but you want to show him that it’s no big deal. If you give affection to an nervous mind, you’re rewarding that state of mind and telling him to take note of the event. It has to be just another crazy part of this human world and no big deal.
Dogs that already scared
If your dog already has a fear of fireworks we need to change our approach a bit. Engaging and ignoring won’t do a damn thing to help the situation, so we have to shift our focus from treatment to management.
- Make them as comfortable as possible – First off, get them as far away from the noise as possible. That means away from windows or maybe into the basement (some dogs feel better in the bathtub).
- Try to cover up all that noise – Play the TV or music loudly to muffle the sound outside.
- Comfort them if that seems to improve their anxiety level – When they already have a bad fear of something as uncontrollable as fireworks, there is not much that’s going to improve it so we might as well make them feel better in that moment. If your dogs shows improvement on your lap, go for it; if she seems to settle as you snuggle under a blanket, get under the covers – whatever it takes to get them through that stressful experience is fine.
No matter what level your dogs is at, firework phobia is such a common problem that you should put some thought into how your dog will be spending his time this 4th of July. It’s a time of fun for us and it’s easy to get swept into the excitement of the moment but just remember that Fido is probably not a fan of all the hoopla in the sky and we want to do everything in our power to make sure he has a fun summer too.
Happy 4th of July. Love those doggies.