Fireworks and Your Pup(s)
The fourth of July can be an exciting time for us humans but not so much for our canines. Exposure to loud, booming sounds and flashes of light can cause stress for even those pups who are okay with the occasional thunderstorms. Fear and anxiety associated with the sounds of fireworks can be visible in the following behaviors:
trying to escape
dilated pupils or wide eyes
whining or barking
Fortunately, there are a number of proactive steps you can take to help prepare your pup and ease any potential stress-related issues before they manifest and it's too late to manage the situation. Here is a list of those actions you would be wise to consider:
Anxiety Medication & Supplements - reach out to your Vet as early as possible (ideally 1 month in advance of the 4th) to see if your dog would benefit from prescribed medications and/or supplementation. (Thundershirt Anti Anxiety Jacket is also an option)
Fireworks Desensitization Training - (Best done when you're dog is relaxed and in a happy mood). Go to PreventativeVet.com/fireworks for sounds of fireworks and play them softly in the background in any of the following situations: when your dog is eating breakfast/dinner, when playing with a favorite game or toy, giving a gentle massage or having cuddle time, during a training session with high value treats, or during any other rewarding time so your pup associates positive things with the sound. WARNING: Make sure to watch for signs of stress that your dog is bothered by the sounds. If your dog looks stressed lower the volume or turns off the sounds altogether. If he/she seems to be okay gradually increase the volume. Do this for 30mins at a time, a few times per day. Talk to a Vet or certified dog trainer to address any noise phobias your dog may have.
Create a Safe Space for Your Pup - This may be your pup's crate or another area they go to when they need to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Or you can create a safe space in advance of the 4th of July (preferably as soon as your new pup enters your life) to include features of: a comfy cool temp, water and food, easily accessible, and quiet/stress-free (you can even play "white noise" on your phone or computer to drown out the sound of the fireworks and/or plugin a pheromone diffuser ), safe and appropriate chew toys, free from hazards or items that can be dangerous to your dog
Ensure Your Pup is Microchipped (and Registered) - and that your contact information is up to date. The 5th of July is one of the busiest days of the year for animal shelters due to those who escape their homes due to the fear of fireworks.
Do a Perimeter Check - Make sure your yard is safe and secure from any potential means of escape like holes and openings, and sturdy fencing that can't be knocked down. It's wise to check early so you can make any necessary repairs ahead of time.
The Day of the Fourth:
- Keep your dog away from firework shows
- Exercise your dog before the fireworks begin
- Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tags
- Settle down with a movie or music during fireworks time
- Have a "treat party" whenever the sound of fireworks go off give your dog
a special, high value treat so they associate something awesome with the
potentially stressful sound
- Comfort, don't coddle your dog. Don't let them see you anxious because
they'll pick up on it
- Potty breaks, make sure your dog is on a leash and under control so they have a fenced-in yard.
Be prepared, stay safe, and ENJOY!!!