Although fireworks are festive, exciting and beautiful to us, to a dog they can be frightening and very painful.
Some dogs have no problems dealing with the noise, but other dogs do not handle the situation as well. Your dog can become destructive, loud or act very frightened when the fireworks begin.
A dog’s ears are much more sensitive than those of their human companions. Fireworks are loud even to people. To a dog the noise level is more elevated and intense. If you have ever seen a human child who is frightened of fireworks or any other extreme noise, imagine what a dog must be experiencing when fireworks are exploding nearby.
To help your dog cope with the agitation fireworks can cause for them, try these methods to alleviate the problem and make them more comfortable.
Companionship during stressful times is good for human and dog alike. There is security in having someone close by.
If you are planning on being away from home during the festivities, consider asking someone to stay with your dog to keep them company. If your dog has someone to reassure them that the noise will not hurt them and that they are not alone, they are less likely to act out. It will make them feel safer.
Put your dog inside the house or garage during the fireworks. Leave them in a secure area where they can’t destroy things around them in their fear. An agitated dog is not trying to be naughty when they break or shred things in fear. They are simply trying to find relief from the source of their agitation or pain. If they are alone, they have no one to console or reassure them. They do not understand what fireworks are. To your dog they are a loud intrusion.
If you do not have a crate, try an area of the house where they are less likely to destroy things or where the noise is more muffled, such as a laundry room or bathroom.
Provide distractions while the fireworks are exploding. Turn on the radio or television. Close the windows and doors to help cut down the noise levels. If you are home with your dog, play games with them that help keep them focused on something besides the noise outside. If they are more subdued in fear, provide them with a good solid chew toy to focus their energy on.
Give the dog their favorite CANIDAE treat to make them think of the experience as more positive and less threatening. Let them cuddle with you if that helps keep them calm.
During very stressful situations, an anxiety shirt can be very helpful. Shirts like the Thunder Shirt are designed to make a dog feel secure and calmer when situations are beyond their control. When the dog is wearing one, it is a bit like giving the dog a constant hug. It helps to keep them calm.
Even a normally well behaved dog may act out during fireworks by barking excessively, running around in a frenzy, or even destroying things around them that they normally would not touch. When fear takes over, sometimes training gets left behind. Dogs can shred stuffed furniture, knock things over and chew excessively when they are agitated and frightened. Help your dog through the celebrations, and keep them safe and calm.
Top photo by Anja Johnson
Bottom photo by Matt Reinbold
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch