It’s estimated at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety which is amplified by the summer thunderstorms and further by summer fireworks. In fact, animal shelters report that their busiest day for taking in runaway dogs is July 5th.
It is natural for dogs to be afraid of loud noises. The sound triggers their nervous system and they become anxious or afraid. Running away from the noise is a natural survival instinct. Fireworks are scarier to dogs than thunder – they are closer to the ground, more vibrant, and are accompanied by sudden booms, flashes and burning smells.
Here are some tips on how to keep your canine calm and safe during a firework display:
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. Exercise helps dogs alleviate stress and can wear them out a little bit in anticipation of a stressful night.
- Keep your dog inside during the fireworks – bringing your dog to a fireworks display is never a good idea. Human companionship will help them feel more comfortable, so consider staying with them while the fireworks are going off.
- Provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t place, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas to hide in. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a great option!
- If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed. Removing visual stimulation can also help calm dogs.
- Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags and a properly fitted collar, in case he or she finds a way to escape. Also, make sure the contact information on its microchip is up to date.
- Give your dog something fun to do to keep his or her mind off of the scary sounds! Our favorite “distraction” is a frozen Kong filled with peanut butter!
- Turning on the TV can help drown out the fireworks! If your dog is still really anxious about the noise, consider working on conditioning your dog to feel more comfortable around fireworks. Gradually exposing your dog to audio recordings of fireworks at low volume levels – and if they appear relaxed reward them with a treat or their favorite toy! Learn more about how to condition your dog to the sound of fireworks here.
Remember to communicate with your dog while the firework show is happening, sending them calming messages and reassurance to help them relax. While humans communicate to each other in words, dogs communicate by picking up on energy and will look to the pack leader for clues on how they should behave. For more tips and resources to address your pup’s anxiety, schedule an appointment with one of our five Animal Health Center locations.