The Fourth of July is a fun time of celebrating, drinking beers, laying poolside and of course, watching the fireworks. While most people go hard for this holiday, it’s not always as fun for the pets. In fact, many dogs are scared of the loud noises fireworks make and may even bolt out of fear.
If your dog is sensitive to sounds, crowds or you’re just worried about making sure your pet is safe during Independence Day weekend, there are a few important tips for keeping your dog calm.
Tips to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks
Keep pets in a safe and familiar area
While you may be tempted to bring your dog to any outdoor events for the Fourth of July, it’s safest to keep them home where they feel the least threatened.
“Don’t take your dog to an event in a new location or to any firework shows,” Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Animal Health & Behavior Consultant at Camp Bow Wow, tells Newsweek. “The crowds, noise and darkness can cause a dog to panic and could lead to a dog injuring themselves trying to escape an unfamiliar situation.”
Of course, even at home, your pup may get spooked.
“Even in familiar settings, it may be a good idea to remove outdoor access for your dog during the peak firework times,” Askeland says. “Dogs who might venture out to a yard could panic and try to climb or jump a fence to escape.”
Double check your dog’s tags and collar
Unfortunately, even if you try to prevent your dog from running away, they could slip through the cracks.
“In the event that your dog does escape while panicked, it is important that your contact info can be found on tags and collars and that your dog is microchipped for easier identification,” Askeland explains.
Give your dog enough exercise
The day of, it’s important that your dog isn’t feeling underexercised. A lack of exercise in pets is a common reason why they tend to run away—after all, if a dog is active, they’re more likely to be tired and therefore less likely to escape.
“Give your dog plenty of time to exercise throughout the day of Fourth,” Askeland advises. “A dog that has been well-exercised is less likely to experience as much stress.”
And remember, exercising doesn’t have to be only a walk. There are other fun ways to keep your dog active—even from your living room.
“Use different forms of exercise that your dog enjoys, such as a walk, game of fetch or tug, training session or scavenger hunt to help burn off extra energy before fireworks start in the evening,” Askeland adds.
Create a dedicated, quiet area for pets
Before things start getting loud, designated a safe, quiet spot for your pet in your home.
“Put your dog in the quietest part of your house,” Askeland says. “Create a safe spot for your dog to hang out during popular firework times. To make the space extra cozy for your pet, you can set up a sound machine or play calming music from one of these pet-dedicated Spotify playlists to help muffle the sound of fireworks in your neighborhood.”
Askeland also recommends closing blinds and drapes to minimize sounds and flashes.
Keep your pet busy
One of the best ways to distract dogs from the fireworks is to preoccupy them with something else… something a bit more rewarding.
“Set up your dog with a long-lasting frozen treat, puzzle toy or bone to keep your pet busy during any fireworks shows. Try to time it so your dog can start enjoying their treat or puzzle before your neighbors start any loud fireworks. These should be special treats that your dog doesn’t regularly get to enjoy.
Things to Buy to Keep Your Dog Calm
ThunderShirt Classic Anxiety Vest
ThunderShirts are one of the most popular ways pet-owners help curb their dog’s anxiety. The ThunderShirt Classic Anxiety Vest acts like a kind of weighted blanket of sorts for your pup’s body. It uses compression to help your dog feel safe and secure.
Buy at Chewy.
ZestyPaws Calming Bites
Calming aids can be an effective alternative in dogs that don’t respond well to other options. While some pet-owners go through their veterinarians to get anti-anxiety medication prescribed, there’s also melatonin- and suntheanine-based calming aids that are over the counter (and sometimes much cheaper). We love Zesty Paws Calming Bites because they’re easy-to-distribute chewables (no pill pockets necessary) and each bite is packed with natural ingredients that relieve anxiety—hemp seeds, chamomile, L-theanine and more.
“Talk to your vet about calming aids,” Askeland recommends. “Some dogs can benefit from some calming aids, but it is important to talk to your vet before introducing any new medications to your dog.”
Buy at Amazon.
Happy Hoodie Calming Cap
Originally designed to help dog groomers calm down their four-legged customers while cutting and shaving their hair, the Happy Hoodie Calming Cap can also work well for paw-rents with anxious animals. It works in a similar way to a ThunderShirt in that it uses pressure to swaddle a dog’s head to induce feelings of calmness and comfort. Because the Happy Hoodie Calming Cap also covers your puppy’s ears, the gentle compression also reduces loud noises, which is exactly what you need around July 4.
Buy at Amazon.
ThunderEase Calming Diffuser
From the same brand that makes the ThunderShirt, the ThunderEase Calming Diffuser Kit is kind of like calming essential oils for dogs. Except because dogs can be super sensitive to essential oils, this diffuser uses pheromones to naturally calm pups.
Buy at Chewy.
Sentry Cuddlin’ Companion Bedtime Bear
If your fur-baby is most motivated by toys, a calming toy like the Sentry Cuddlin’ Companion Bedtime Bear could be a meaningful way to reduce their stress. Developed by pet experts at top universities, this teddy bear is outfitted with calming drops made from pheromones. Simply add a few drops to your doggy’s bear, then let the natural pheromones work their magic.
Buy at PetSmart.
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