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12 Helpful Tips When Fido Hates Fireworks

Do you love fireworks but find that your furry friend hates them? Does he run and hide, cowering until they’re over? This is not uncommon. In fact, while fireworks are usually an exciting experience for people, the loud and almost incessant noise involved can be terrifying for our canine companions. The stress and anxiety they produce are upsetting for dog and owner alike. Here are some things to keep in mind as fireworks season rolls around.

  1. Your dog’s reaction is completely normal. As humans, we understand what the Fourth of July means and are prepared for the noises that accompany its patriotic displays. However, man’s best friend is likely to be startled and terrified by the sudden din that seems to come out of nowhere
  2. No one really likes to be startled and, for a dog, that’s exactly what fireworks mean. Their hearts start pounding, they experience a spike of adrenaline and stress hormones often flood their body. Because they don’t know where the noises are coming from and what they mean, this effect can last the entire time.
  3. Fido’s heightened senses often make fireworks overwhelming. A keen sense of hearing means the sounds of fireworks are that much more intense. In addition to the sounds, your dog’s amplified sense of smell makes them acutely aware of the odors produced by fireworks.
  4. Fireworks and thunderstorms are not the same thing to dogs. Dogs are often able to sense impending thunderstorms when barometric pressure falls and high winds kick up, helping them to be less startled. The sudden and infrequent nature of fireworks can make them more upsetting.
  5. Many dogs aren’t afraid of fireworks. Some dogs are more laid-back and others have experienced fireworks often enough that the experience isn’t so stressful for them. They seem to realize that there is no real threat of harm and are not bothered by the experience.
  6. Starting early can help your dog to do better with fireworks.Prior to the Fourth of July (or any gathering where there will be fireworks), try playing recordings of fireworks, slowly increasing the volume each time. It may take months to help your dog become acclimated to the loud sounds, so be sure to start the process early.
  7. The younger the dog, the better your chances of decreasing their sensitivity. Exposing your puppy to noises like fireworks and thunder in their early months of life greatly increases the likelihood that these sounds will not upset him later in life
  8. Distract your dog during fireworks. Give your dog a special treat or her favorite toy. It might help to create positive associations with fireworks. Look into calming wraps or thundershirts.
  9. Found at local pet supply stores, these garments act in the same way swaddling does for infants. They can help your dog to feel more secure during anxiety-inducing events.
  10. Create a safe space in your home where your dog can feel secure during the noise. Give your dog unrestricted access to comfortable places in your home. Many dogs view their crate as a den and feel safest in that area. If your dog isn’t crate trained, her bed can provide the same sense of comfort. Try closing the windows, shutting blinds or curtains, and playing the television or some music.
  11. Set the example and stay calm. As pack leader, your dog looks to you for comfort and reassurance during times of stress. Remaining calm will help ease your pet’s anxiety.
  12. Seek medical advice. Some dogs have such an extreme reaction to fireworks that veterinary intervention is required. Your veterinarian will assess the situation and may prescribe medication to help calm your pet’s firework anxiety.

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