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Fireworks and Dog Anxiety

With the Fourth of July here, I think about all the furry friends out there and how it affects them. I know our two pups get a little anxious with the loud pops, bangs and booms, do yours? Fireworks are fun and exciting, but dogs and cats can be frightened by the loud noises and flashing lights. According to Purina, more pets run away out of fear and get lost on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. That's a startling fact!

First and foremost, make sure your pet is properly tagged with identification on his/her collar with phone numbers where you can be reached if your pet is found. Also make sure your pet microchipped. Now’s a good time to make sure your pet has a pet ID tag on his collar so you can be reached if he ever gets lost. House of FurBaby has a full line of personalized Pet ID tags for dogs and cats from the tiniest to the largest.

What makes dogs so scared of fireworks?

1. They’re Loud

Dogs have an acute sense of hearing, so those loud booms, crackles and whistles are alarming to them .

2. They’re Unpredictable

You expect fireworks on holidays like the Fourth of July, but for your dog, it’s just another day. Those firecrackers come without warning. The loud noises and flashing lights sound and look different each time. Plus, they come at different intervals, so dogs can’t get used to them.

3. They Pose a Threat

The noise and unpredictability of fireworks leads many dogs to perceive them as a threat. This triggers their fight-or-flight response. Your dog may bark at the noises or try to run away and hide. He may show other signs of anxiety, too, like restlessness, panting, pacing and whining.

4. Fireworks Make Dogs Feel Trapped

Fireworks are inescapable on holidays like Independence Day. So, if the noises trigger your dog’s flight response, he will try to run from the threat. Unfortunately, there’s often nowhere to go, as you can still hear those loud booms indoors.

What’s the best way to help our pets through this time?

As you can see, dogs have good reasons to fear fireworks. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your dog feel safe and secure.

  • Keep Him Inside: Even if your dog spends most of his time outdoors, bring him inside during firework displays. This will prevent him from running away when he feels scared, which can put him in danger.

  • Create a Safe Space: If your dog is crate-trained, make his crate available, as that’s probably already a safe space for him. If not, put him in a bathroom or other small room with music or white noise to help drown out the boom of fireworks. Bringing his bed, blankets and toys into the room can make him feel more comfortable.

  • Try a Calming Wrap: Calming wraps, vests and shirts apply light, constant pressure. Many dogs find this soothing and calming and may be helpful in other anxiety-inducing situations as well.

  • Desensitize: Start working with your dog far enough in advance to desensitize him to fireworks and other loud noises. You can start this process by playing fireworks sounds on a low level while playing with your dog and giving him treats. Over time, slowly increase the sound of the fireworks during these play sessions. Eventually, your dog will associate the sound of fireworks with happy and fun moments.

Not all dogs are afraid of fireworks but if your dog is, make an effort to keep your dog calm and reassure him. Also, remember to remain calm yourself as your dog takes cues from you.

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