While a lot of us are fans of fireworks displays, they are considerably less enjoyable for dogs. The same bright flashing light, lingering smoky scents in the air, and loud booming noises that we delight in, are a nightmare for them. As dogs experience the world through their senses, these overwhelming assault on their senses is enough to send them shaking and cowering under the bed. How, then, should you calm your dog during fireworks? Well, we have here some tips to help to make fireworks more tolerable for your petrified dog.
1. Dress them up
A quick and easy way to help alleviate the anxiety of your pup is to utilise the wrap method. Originally invented by a professional dog trainer, the anxiety wrap uses acupressure and maintained pressure to reduce stress. You can DIY this at home by taking a piece of fabric or a scarf and wrapping it around certain parts of your dog’s body. For this method to work, the wrap has to go around your dog’s body with just enough gentle pressure that it snugly hugs his body. What this does is that it helps to relieve fear as well as to give your scared dog a sense of protection.
If you would prefer to hit the shops, instead, these aids are sold under a variety of names with varying prices. A common one available in the market is the Thundershirt.
2. Cover them up and have a safe place
Stop! Do not put the hood over your dog’s head! We simply mean cover the windows or draw the curtains close. This is to minimise the distressing flashing light of the fireworks. By removing the visual stimulation as much as possible, this will help to calm down your anxious dog.
You should also make sure that your dog has a place to retreat and hide — a designated safe place. This could be under the bed, in a walk-in closet (great option because of the lack of flashing light and the clothes absorb the noises), under the table, or in a crate. However, make sure to not confine the pup to one room as he may be more comfortable in his usual spot or beside you.
3. Blast the tunes
Mask the booms of fireworks by keeping the radio on. Certain types of music have been shown to be especially calming for our four-legged friends. Harp and classical music are especially popular choices. In fact, even white noise could be effective enough as it muffles the scarier fireworks noises.
Alternatively, if your dog is the type to watch TV, put on a cartoon (or any shows that he enjoys, really) for him.
4. Work it off
We all know that a tired dog is a happy dog but a tired dog is also a calm (well, calmer) dog. So, make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercises earlier in the day. Take him for a long walk, a run around the neighbourhood, a game of fetch at the park, or a combination of the above. Get the activities in well before the fireworks begin. Additionally, be sure to feed and hydrate your dog prior to the chaos of the night. A delicious meal by Petchef will definitely be appreciated by your furbaby.
If your furkid is tired enough from the activities of the day, he may even sleep right through the bangs and flashes of the fireworks. Mission accomplished!
5. Distract, distract, and distract
Leave your dog something fun to do for the evening. Before the light works begin, give your dog a long-lasting special treat. So, instead of paying attention to the scary fireworks, he has something to focus on and to enjoy. A frozen Kong with peanut butter, a chew, or his favorite treats are all perfect distraction.
With these tips in your repertoire, fireworks need not be a source of a nightmare for your furkids. And a bonus tip: if you have plans to light up the sky, please consider refraining from doing so. Keep in mind the many pets — not just dogs — that run away from home because of the fireworks and the many terrified strays that do not have a safe place to hide or anyone to comfort them. Remember, there are much more to celebrations and festivities than fireworks.