It’s that time of year when those white tents selling discounted fireworks start popping up roadside and at WalMarts across the country; and the social media posts from friends pleading to stop the noise and donate to the local shelter instead of buying fireworks. While I wish the latter happened and the shelters were flooded with thousands of dollars of much needed food and supplies, realistically that is unlikely to happen, and firework sales will continue to explode.
If you are a dog parent, like me, it is difficult to watch your best friend go into a panic every 4th of July or New Years Eve. Why do fireworks panic your pup? It’s not the bright flashes, it’s the noise. Dogs have an acute sense of hearing and can hear noises up to a mile away. To them the firework display by your neighbor down the street sounds like it is in your own backyard to them. The noises are not familiar to them, they are loud and unpredictable. Their instinct reaction to the noises is “fight or flight”.
The good thing is that you can predict, in most cases, when fireworks are going to happen, and you can prepare your pup to cope better with the booms and bangs.
1. First and foremost; DO NOT take your pups to fireworks display or leave them outside during fireworks. Keeping your dog inside is the best idea.
2. Make sure your pet has proper ID on his/her collar, just in case of the run or flight instinct. If they run, there’s a good chance someone will help them find their way back home.
3. Create a quiet zone or haven for your dog inside. Usually, a basement or interior room is best. Instinctively, dogs are den animals and are looking for that cave or den to get away from it all. I had a past dog that always ran to the interior bathroom and hid beside the toilet. But find a place where they are comfortable, close the drapes or blinds and have their favorite blanket or toys available.
4. Tire them out in the evening before the fireworks start; have them run at the dog park, take them for a long walk or another activity that helps tire them out. This will make them less reactive to the noises.
5. Talk to your Vet. Well in advance of the holidays, check with your vet about anxiety medication or discuss using over-the-counter CBD, dog calming treats or anxiety or thunder vests.
Your pup’s firework anxiety is not fun and it’s just not one of those things we ignore until they are over. There are ways for you to prepare your dog and make the holiday a little more tolerable for them. Still post that social media plea for your friends to abandon the fireworks and donate to the local shelter. If one person accepts the plea, it’s better than no one.
Now, go give a belly rub and prepare and enjoy the 4th of July!
Jim Faust is a dog dad of two rescued mutts and proprietor of Three Corner Woods, a sustainable pet lifestyle shop. Visit Three Corner Woods at www.3cornerwoods.com and subscribe for updates or like/follow Three Corner Woods on Facebook or LinkedIn.