This week we’ve been looking at how to help your dog be more comfortable during a fireworks display. In the last post we discussed steps you can take in the weeks leading up to the fireworks display, and today we’re going to examine things you can do the day of and during the fireworks to make your dog more relaxed.
Tire your dog out
The day you expect there to be fireworks, take your dog outside to release excess energy. This may mean working in an extra walk, a long game of fetch, or some extra time at the dog park. Giving your dog an opportunity to release their energy in a positive manner means they have less to burn through when scared, and they may even sleep through the fireworks.
Attend to their basic needs
Make sure your dog is well fed and has plenty of water during the day. And make sure they have plenty of opportunities to relieve themselves before the fireworks begin.
Once the fireworks have started there are a few additional things you can try.
Dampen the noises
Keeping your dog safely inside and away from the fireworks is clearly very important. Additionally, once inside, you can draw the curtains, and run additional environmental noises in the house. Keeping the TV on, running the dishwasher, a white noise machine or fan can all help dampen the noises even more.
Treating your dog to a new toy or his favorite treat is a great way to help distract your dog during the height of the fireworks.
Finally, do not punish or further stress your dog during the fireworks. Remember that fireworks typically only run for a few moments before they are over, so even if your dog does become anxious, you’ll be able to help him calm down once the fireworks are over. Each interaction with fireworks will serve as a learning experience for both of you until you figure out what works best. Keep working together, as the problem is likely to escalate over time if not dealt with early on. If not addressed, the dog's fear of fireworks can develop into a noise phobia, i.e. persistent, excessive, and irrational fear response, which can be difficult to deal with.
The summer is a wonderful season to be active with your dog, and while it may be tempting to take your dog everywhere, for fireworks it’s best to leave them at home. If you can’t be at home with your dog while fireworks are happening, consider hiring a trusted sitter to be there in your absence.
Do you have an experience with fireworks with your dog? Do you have any tips to share with dog owners?