Fireworks are beautiful, fun, and a loud way to celebrate the birth of a nation or ring in a new year. But many dogs don’t agree with their owners when it comes to enjoying fireworks.
Dog owners often ask what their pets are going through and how they can help them cope with fireworks.
We’ll answer those questions and offer some tips on helping your dogs stay calm and safe when the time for fireworks arrives.
What Do Dogs Feel During Fireworks, and Why?
Dog owners know their pets may react strangely when fireworks explode near them. Here is what’s likely going on from a dog’s perspective during those amazing fireworks events.
Fireworks are loud, bright, and entirely unpredictable. They are not something your dog is used to.
One moment everything is nice and serene, the next something intensely frightening and threatening is happening. Something your dog simply does not understand. Dogs, much like humans, often fear what they don’t understand.
Your pup feels the need to escape that which is frightening them, to run and hide.
Dogs might pace, tremble, pant, whine, or show other signs of distress when fireworks are going off.
Although humans see an exciting celebration, pets imagine something much worse. This is especially true if the dog already struggles with anxiety or is afraid of other loud events like thunderstorms.
Dogs can run away and even harm themselves trying to escape from what they see as a clear and present danger.
Keeping dogs home and indoors is a good way to help them get through fireworks. Owners need to know what to do, and what not to do, to help their pups stay safe and calm during fireworks.
What to Do With Your Dog During Fireworks
Perhaps most importantly, pet owners should understand that dogs do not belong at public fireworks displays.
They frequently run away, even when they are at the celebration with their loving owners. Keeping dogs home and indoors is a good way to help dogs and their owners get through fireworks in the most enjoyable way.
Prepare for Fireworks in Advance
Owners can do several things in advance that will help their pup have a relaxed and comfortable experience during fireworks. Here are some ways a dog owner can help their pet.
Create a Safe Haven
Many dogs have their own safe place where they can go if they feel threatened. For some dogs, this safe space is a crate. For others, it may be under their owner’s bed – or on top of it!
This space needs to be made fully accessible during fireworks.
If the pet doesn’t have a preferred safe haven, creating one several weeks before the celebration will help him cope when the time comes.
Large closets can make good safe spaces for pups and are often deep enough into the home that the sounds of fireworks will be quite minimal.
Owners can create a safe space by putting the dog’s bed or favorite blanket in the closet with his comfort object.
That pitiful, worn-out, un-stuffed bunny can be quite helpful on celebration night.
Some dog owners choose to leave town entirely. Going camping with your dog is a fantastic and fun way to get away from the noise and excitement of fireworks.
Acclimate Their Pup to Loud Noises
Counterconditioning is a training process that can be useful preparation for fireworks and other loud events.
Dog owners can pair treats with recordings of fireworks. Feeding the pup treats while the recording is playing creates a pleasant association with the sound.
The volume should be loud enough the dog can hear it, but not show signs of stress. If the dog begins panting, pacing, or trying to escape, the volume should be turned down. Consulting a trainer is a good idea.
Check and Update Pet Identification
If your treasured pet does manage to escape during the celebration, she will be much easier to locate if the information on her tag is up to date.
Be certain the pup’s microchip or dog tag has the correct owner information before the fireworks start. There are even GPS devices that you can attach to your dog. A pup that has a GPS device will be much easier to locate if she wanders off.
Consider a Pheromone or an Anxiety Wrap
Dogs who struggle with anxiety have a particularly hard time coping with fireworks.
Some pet owners use a synthetic pheromone to help their dogs deal with stress. It mimics the pheromone released by a dog’s mother. This is odorless and can be sprayed on a pup’s bed or put in a diffuser.
Anxiety wraps or vests can also help decrease clinical signs of stress in dogs. They provide a snug fit that mimics swaddling. Some pup owners find these help their dogs deal with anxiety, especially if combined with behavioral training.
On Celebration Night
When the fireworks begin to erupt, what a dog’s owner does can have a big impact on how their pup reacts to the noise and light. Here are some ways owners can help their dogs have a safe and comfortable night.
Secure the Home
Locking all doors and windows ensures your dog doesn’t escape when the festivities start. Shutting curtains or blinds helps keep the noise level down while eliminating the frightening flashes of light.
If your dog has a safe space in the house to retreat to, you can also consider covering windows in that room with blankets to help muffle the sounds even further.
Play White Noise
White noise can help mask the loud bangs that are coming from outside. Fans, televisions, and even dishwashers are all sounds that your dog may be used to. They can create the white noise that can help your pup feel safe during fireworks displays.
Dogs are comforted by routine and stability. When owners don’t react to the light and sound of fireworks, their dogs are less likely to be upset by them.
When dogs are exposed to new experiences, they are more likely to feel safe if their owners are present and don’t show fear.
Offer Special Treats
Tasty food and treats can be a great distraction when the fireworks commence.
A healthy treat like Jiminy’s Cricket Treats will work great. Placing treats inside a dispensing toy is a good way to keep a dog happy and focused on something else for a while.
Comfort Their Pet
It’s impossible to harm a pet by comforting him when he asks to be comforted. It’s important to let the pet ask for attention and not force him to come. Forcing a dog to be petted sometimes backfires, and the pup feels even more threatened than before.
Allowing dogs to go to their safe space to hide is perfectly fine.
What Not to Do
Pet owners should be careful not to do these things during fireworks. These actions can potentially harm their dog.
Yell at Their Pup
When dog owners yell at their pup, it doesn’t do anything but upset the pet further. Humans understand what is happening when fireworks are exploding, but dogs don’t know what to think. Yelling at a pet is never a good idea, but during fireworks it is an especially bad idea.
Give Their Dog Medication Without Consulting a Veterinarian
Veterinarians are the most qualified people when it comes to medicating a dog for any condition. A vet should be consulted before giving any medication to a dog for anxiety. Although some medications are available, they are not always the best option for a scared pup.
Leave Their Dog Alone Outside
Fireworks are terrifying to a dog, and pets should never be left outside during a fireworks display. If a dog needs to go outside, the owner should stay with their pet and make sure he gets back inside safely. Taking the pet outside before the fireworks begin may prevent this need from occurring.
Dogs and Their Owners Can Enjoy the Evening
With a bit of preparation and some careful attention to their pup, dog owners can have a much more comfortable night when the fireworks begin. Most importantly, their dogs will have a safe and calm night despite the chaos created by unexpected noise and light outside.