Days like the 4th of July or any thunder storm are a challenge in our house. My poodle, Poirot, just doesn’t like the sound of the explosions and cracks of thunder or the way the air changes during a storm. It is getting better as he gets older because his hearing is not as acute as it once was but waiting for your dog to turn 14 is not one of my tips! Here are some tips that may be more practical.
1. Exercise your dog before the fireworks start!
Make time in your schedule to give your an extra long workout before the fireworks begin. Tired dogs are calmer and easier to keep quiet. They will also sleep more deeply, and consequently, will be less likely to be disturbed by the noise outside.
2. Stay home with your dog.
I understand that not everyone can stay at home on the 4th, but your dog’s fear of fireworks can be exacerbated if you aren’t there to provide reassurance that they are safe. This is especially important if you have a a new dog in the house because you won’t know how it reacts to fireworks.
3. Keep Calm.
Your dog reacts to your nonverbal cues. If you jump or tense up when you hear fireworks because you are anticipating your dog’s fear, you may make the fear worse.
4. Drown out the sound.
Turn up the stereo or television, and keep your windows closed during the fireworks. Something that can provide background noise, like a fan or air conditioner can help as well.
5. Respect your dog’s fear.
Allow your dog to hide if it feels more comfortable in its crate or under a bed. Don’t pull it out or try to force it closer to the fireworks in an attempt to get them used to the sounds. Just let it stay where it’s comfortable and provide reassurance that they’re safe.
6. Provide a distraction.
Break out your dog’s favorite treats, play a game, or give some extra cuddle time. You can occupy your dog for awhile by filling a KONG with peanut butter or another yummy treat and freezing it.
7. Try the ThundershirtI
Poirot has adapted well to his Thundershirt. The pressure it provides has a calming effect on the nervous system.
8. Just say YES to drugs.
If you know that your dog will panic when the fireworks start, ask your vet if he/she can prescribe medication that can help.
9. Remove visual stimulation.
Keep your curtains and blinds closed. Removing visual stimulation can help calm dogs.
10. Be Prepared.
Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags with its name, your name, and your phone number. Get your dog microchipped if it doesn’t have one. Buy your dog a license – if it runs off and is picked up by animal control, they will call to let you know they have your dog. And you won’t have to pay a big fine to get your dog back.