The Fourth of July is a celebratory time for family backyard barbecues, enjoying the summer weather and of course, fireworks.
But for our dogs, Independence Day can be a stressful time full of loud noises. These can cause anxiety, and throw even the biggest dogs into a frenzy.
In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, the Fourth of July is the most common day of the year for dogs to go missing. Dogs don’t know the reason for the loud bangs and explosions like we do. So when they hear them, they think something really dangerous is happening and try to escape from it.
It's important to be prepared, and to make sure your dog is ready for a day and night full of potentially scary sounds. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe and calm this July Fourth.
1. Plan extra exercise on the Fourth of July
The key to reducing dog anxiety is getting your pup nice and tired. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise before all of the Independence Day festivities and fireworks get started.
Getting most of their energy out beforehand can encourage them to relax so they're not ready to take off when the fireworks go off. As the saying goes, “a tired dog is a good dog!”
Some great ways to tire out your pooch are hikes, long walks, playing fetch, going for a swim, or even just letting them play in the backyard. Any or all of these will help your dog relax when things get loud.
2. Provide a safe space
The best place to keep your dog during a fireworks show is inside. To filter out the sounds coming from outside, it’s a good idea to close the windows. Don’t forget to close the curtains as well, in order to keep out flashes of light that can startle your furry friend. Playing soothing music or leaving the TV on in the background is also a great way to drown out the booming fireworks.
If your dog has a crate, bed, or blanket they love, having it near will help create this safe space. Make sure your pup is able to easily access these spaces during events that may be stressful for them. [Learn more about cozy & calming pet blankets]
Fill the room with your dog’s favorite toys and access to fresh water. Check on your pup throughout the night to make sure they are comfortable.
3. Anti-anxiety medications and other calming solutions for dogs
If your dog is especially prone to stress, ask your veterinarian about medications that can help your best friend cope with fireworks anxiety and other fears. There are many anxiety medications available as a prescription that are safe and effective for dogs, but should only be used under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.
There are also over-the-counter anti-anxiety solutions for dogs that can help during July Fourth fireworks. Calming supplements in the form of chews often contain ingredients like hemp and melatonin. Weighted anxiety jackets provide gentle pressure around your pup producing a calming effect on their nervous system. Sprays can be misted onto your dog’s bedding or into the air that diffuse calming pheromones designed to mimic the comfort signals a mother dog sends to her puppies.
All of these are preventative measures. So getting ahead of the holiday is your best bet with these solutions.
4. Desensitizing your dog to fireworks and loud noises
If you have enough time, you can try desensitizing your dog to loud noises by playing a recording of fireworks while doing something fun with them. Start off at a low volume and create positive associations by giving your furry friend attention or treats. Gradually increase the volume over several days. This way they’ll learn to associate the fireworks with good things and will become used to the noise over time.
While taking all of these steps can help calm your dog this Fourth of July, it’s always good to be prepared just in case the worst happens and they do run away. Make sure your dog is microchipped and registered with up-to-date contact information and be sure your dog’s I.D. tags are up-to-date as well.
With the above tips, hopefully you and your furry friend can have a calm and stress-free July Fourth holiday!