It’s perfectly natural for a dog to get anxious on the 4th of July, even if that same dog is calm the other 364 days out of the year. Dogs have no idea what fireworks are; all they know is that they made incredibly loud noises, and that can really freak them out. Thanks to all of that fear and anxiety, dogs can run away, or hurt themselves or other animals or people. But, there are many things you can do to make the 4th of July more pleasant for both you and your dog, and in our last blog, we touched on a few of them. Keep reading to learn more:
The noise of the fireworks is really the biggest thing that freaks dogs out, and one of the best way to reduce anxiety because of the noise is to distract your dog from it with other noises. Play music, run a fan or turn on the TV to distract your dog from the outside noises. However, keep in mind that your dog has a strong sense of hearing and is sensitive to all noises — not just fireworks — so don’t attempt to drown out the noise; just use it as a means of distraction.
Dogs pick up on the feelings of their owners, and they learn from your actions, even when you’re not actively trying to train them. The normal reaction to a cowering, terrified dog is to shower them with cuddles and love, but it’s important not to take the comforting too far. If you reward your dog’s fear with love and kisses, it will reinforce their anxious, fearful behavior in the future. Instead, act normally around your dog, using a normal tone of voice. If your dog sees that you aren’t acting any differently, it will help to keep them calm.
If you can’t be home with your dog during the fireworks on the 4th of July, boarding your dog might be a better option than leaving them at home alone. These centers are usually well-insulated, and the noise from other barking dogs may even drown out the noise from the fireworks so much that your dog doesn’t even realize they are happening. However, if you’ve never boarded your dog before, the 4th of July is not a good day to do so for the first time, as it will likely only make your dog’s anxiety worse.
While the noise from the fireworks is certainly the biggest problem in terms of dog anxiety and fear, the sight of fireworks exploding in the sky doesn’t make the situation any easier. Remove the added visual stimulation of the fireworks by covering your dog’s crate if they are kenneled up, or closing any windows or blinds.
There are a couple of wraps out there that are designed to calm an anxious dog — the Thundershirt and the Anxiety Wrap. These wraps fit snugly around your dog, applying gentle pressure that helps them to calm down; it’s like a continual, therapeutic hug. This is the same concept as weighted blankets for people who suffer from anxiety, insomnia and other conditions. Though these wraps don’t work for every dog in every situation, they might work for yours!
If your dog has an extreme fear of fireworks that can’t be reduced through the other methods we’ve discussed, it might be a good idea to consult your veterinarian. Dogs in panic mode can hurt themselves or others, and your veterinarian might be able to prescribe a medication to help your dog get through the 4th of July safely.
Your 4th of July doesn’t have to be fraught with terrified dogs, and we hope that these tips will help you enjoy a safe, calm holiday this year. If you have questions or concerns, or you think your dog might benefit from anxiety medication, schedule your appointment with our veterinarian in Carroll Gardens today.