The 4th of July holiday is fast approaching here in the states…
This is the view from my security cameras last year.
My neighbor sets off fireworks RIGHT next to my fence (we won’t talk about what I think of my neighbor, but let’s just say our relationship has plenty of room for improvement).
Anyhow, every year, I have various dogs hanging at my house.
From client dogs here for training, to rescue dogs from a local organization that I’ve volunteered to help, to my own dogs…
And every year, not one dog panics about fireworks.
In fact, my girl Cuvee (who we lost this year to cancer 😭) had health issues and hormone changes that happened later in life, that transformed her from the world’s most confident dog, to one that was intensely afraid of things like fireworks and thunderstorms…
And she fared just fine during the holiday last year…no medication required.
This year, I’ve got a Gordon Setter with me named Duncan who had past experiences (in his home – not mine) with thunderstorms that scared the you-know-what out of him.
And when the fireworks started yesterday, initially he was afraid….
But I’m not worried about the holiday. (Well, I’m worried about the debris that falls into my goat pens, and near my barn…but not much I can do about that).
I’m not worried about the dogs…
And I’m not worried about their reactions.
Because every year, I’m prepared…and every year, I manage my environment to ensure everyone is comfortable, safe, and stress-free.
If your dog is afraid of fireworks, here are some ideas that might help…
- Confine your dog – Giving your dog a safe, comfortable space to retreat to when things get scary will provide them with a sense of security and help to keep them safe, in the event that they panic. Covered crates, or airline style kennels are great options. Be sure to practice crate training in advance of the holiday to build a positive association with being confined.
- Elevate dogs that are afraid – When it comes to fireworks or gunfire, feeling the concussion is just as scary, if not more so than the actual sight or sound. By elevating your dog off of the ground, you can prevent them from feeling the concussion, and help them better relax during fireworks. When it comes to dogs that might be apprehensive, I crate them inside of my vehicle and pull it into the barn (don’t ever leave your vehicle running inside! That’s dangerous!) as the tires absorb most of the concussion. You can also simply prop several pillows underneath your dog’s crate or use rubber matting to lessen the sensation when your dog is inside your home.
- Confine your dog to an interior space – Keeping dogs away from doors and windows and moving their crate to an interior space, like a bathroom, hallway, or even in a walk in closet can lessen the effect of the fireworks, by reducing the sight and sound of them. Again, get them comfortable with this change well before the holiday.
- Keep all the lights ON – Fireworks won’t light up your house, and won’t be as visible if all of the lights are on.
- Provide ambient noise – Keeping steady ambient noise can drown out the sound of the fireworks. Keep music playing AND run fans to minimize the sound of the fireworks nearby.
- Talk to your vet – If your dog is extremely effected by fireworks, talk to your vet about medication to help them relax this 4th of July holiday. And then, after the holiday passes, get with your trainer about ways to help your dog overcome their fears so that, by next 4th of July, that medication won’t be necessary.
Oh, and I’m sure it goes without saying, but you should consider keeping your dog on leash when outside for potty breaks etc – dogs can bolt easily when spooked, and I always operate from a place of prevention and with a “better to be safe than sorry” attitude – especially when it comes to fireworks and especially when I’m not sure how my dog will react.
How does your dog feel about fireworks?
And if they are apprehensive, what do you do to help them to relax?