10 Safety and Calming Tips for Dogs During Fireworks

Fireworks can be fun for humans, but dogs don't have the same reaction.

In the United States, July 4th is around the corner, along with the fireworks that inevitably come with this holiday. Almost all humans with canines in the U.S. declare this day the worst day of the year for their dogs. Veterinarians say that July 3rd is usually the most trafficked day in their offices, with clients coming in to get drugs for their dogs.

A few years ago, I found a lost dog on the 4th of July. He was obviously a well fed, groomed, and trained dog that escaped his yard when he heard the fireworks. When I called our local Humane Society, I was informed that it is the busiest time of the year for them, as more dogs are found wandering loose on July 4th than any other day of the year in the U.S.

10 Tips for providing a safe July 4th for your Canine Household:

  1. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day.
  2. Keep your dogs inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. If it’s hot, air conditioning will help. Bringing your dogs to a fireworks display is never a good idea.
  3. Provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas. (I once had a dog who climbed in the bathtub during windstorms.) If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option.
  4. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed. Covering the crate or lowering the blinds can also be helpful. Removing visual stimulation can also help calm dogs.
  5. Make sure all your dogs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. Dogs have been known to become Houdini around the 4th of July.
  6. Leave your dog something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats.

Using sensory enrichment to calm dogs:

  1. Sound Therapy: The psychoacoustically designed music of Through a Dog's Ear has been specifically designed to reduce canine anxiety and has been successfully utilized by dog lovers world-wide. It is most effective when you first play the music well before the fireworks start, at a time the dog is already feeling peaceful and relaxed. He will begin to associate the music with being calm and content. Then play the music a couple of hours before the fireworks start and continue to play through bedtime. The music doesn’t need to be loud to be effective as it has been clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Listen to free sound samples.
  2. Sound Therapy combined with Desensitization: The Canine Noise Phobia series (CNP) consists of four CD's that can be used individually or as a set: Fireworks, Thunderstorms, City Sounds, and Calming. CNP is an innovative desensitization training tool that combines three distinctive elements for the treatment and prevention of sound-sensitivities and noise-phobias:
    • progressive sound effects (distant/close)
    • specially-designed psychoacoustic music (Through a Dog’s Ear)
    • reward-based reinforcement protocols (Victoria Stilwell)

Here's what Nancy Weller said after using CNP Fireworks:

"I am preparing for New Years Eve. The most skittish of the greyhounds already went to bed. My boy is just game for everything. Tonight, we are relaxing to the Phobia Series Fireworks. He fights hard to stay awake. The subtle fireworks make him stare at the speaker. Then not. 75+ lb brindle boy, sleeping like a baby. Mom might have to curl up too."

  1. Tactile: There are two canine wraps on the market that reportedly help sound phobic dogs. The original Anxiety Wrap was invented by professional dog trainer Susan Sharpe, CPDT-KA. The patented design uses acupressure and maintained pressure to reduce stress. The thundershirt is also a wrap for your dog that provides gentle, constant pressure. Their website reports that over 85% of Thundershirt users see significant improvement in noise anxiety symptoms. Most dogs respond with the very first usage; some need 2-3 usages before showing significant improvement.
  2. Scent: Canine Calm, an all-natural mist from Earth Heart™ Inc., can help dogs relax and cope more effectively with loud noises and other stressful situations. Directions on their website say to spray Canine Calm onto your hands and massage the dog’s outer ears or abdomen. Or lightly mist the air behind your dog’s head, inside the travel crate or car, or directly onto bedding or clothing.

Do you have any additional tips for helping keep dogs calm and safe on this noisy holiday? Thanks for clicking comment below and sharing your suggestions. Also, feel free to share how your dogs have acted during previous July 4th holidays.

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Positively Expert: Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. By combining her passion for music with her love of dogs, she co-created Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to relieve anxiety issues in dogs.


18 thoughts on “10 Safety and Calming Tips for Dogs During Fireworks

  1. Thundershirt

    Firework anxiety in dogs is something that has become a big issue for dogs and their owners. This can cause a lot of stress and can be very painful for dogs. We have had a lot of great discussions about dog anxiety on our Facebook page and have received a lot of great tips. We would like to invite you to check out some of the advice on our page or feel free to join in the conversation on our page. Happy reading:) http://www.facebook.com/thundershirt

  2. Anxiety Wrap

    Thousands of dogs AND their owners suffer this time of year. Not only is it fireworks season, but it's also thunderstorm season. That's way too many booms for even the most confident of dogs to handle. The Anxiety Wrap® pressure wrap is the only patented product on the market and was invented back in 2001. It was created by a world-class dog trainer, Susan Sharpe, who studied Dr. Temple Grandin's work with calming pressure and the method of Acupressure. Read her tips on how to help both your dog and YOU have a calmer storm and fireworks season. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/6/prweb4084494.htm

  3. Cindy Ludwig, M.A., KPA-CTP

    I was so impressed after I used the original Anxiety Wrap on my own dog several years ago that I have been recommending it to my clients with fearful, anxious and aggressive dogs ever since. In every case I have seen an immediate, remarkable reduction in anxious behavior. Pet owners as well as a service dog owner who I have recommended the product to have been very impressed. I have had success with the Anxiety Wrap when using it for general anxiety as well as thunderstorm phobia and separation anxiety. The other product developed and marketed by Animals Plus LLC, the Calming Face Wrap is also a winner! I have used this product with dogs with anxiety-related barking with amazing results! For more information about how the different pressure wraps compare, see this article: http://anxietywrapsays.blogspot.com/2012/02/comparison-of-anxiety-wrap-thundershirt.html

  4. Aaw

    My dog barks when fireworks are going. I have tried distraction with yummy pig ears, ocean wave sounds in the background, positive rienforcement for the "quiet" command with treats. sometimes it works, but i have to do,this every time there are fireworks. Generally though, every time she hears the pops and bangs, she goes crazy barking. Not sure what else to try. I know she is scared and is trying to protect us, but I want to help her relax during fireworks and stop the barking.

  5. Jill

    The first 4th I had him, I put on a war movie so the lights and booms would be camouflaged by the tv. Now any tv helps my pup through thunderstorms and fireworks. It's not 100% cured, but it helps a whole lot!

  6. Pingback: Dogs in the Summer | Colleen Isolde Blog

  7. Pingback: 7 ideas for a healthier fourth of July | Big Girl Life

  8. D

    I made sure I was out with my 2 young dogs when a few fireworks were going off tonight. They stood and watched for a bit, I just kept to the same routine as normal, didn't make any sort of fuss and didn't try avoiding the noise or soothing them - they were happy to wander the garden and to have their usual treats for coming back when called. My boy is extremely alert all of the time and shouts at any noise when we're in the house (thinking someone is coming in) but he saw that the noise and flashes were outside and not affecting his home so he seems to not worry about them. My little girl didn't seem that impressed, but seeing her big brother wasn't bothered, she decided it was fine too. They're now snuggled up in bed asleep with the fireworks still going off, no barking, no fuss before bed.

  9. Joanne

    Sounds like some excellent advice! I'm going to try some of it with my little Havanese. She's a puppy mill rescue and is terribly frightened by thunder and fireworks. I give her rescue remedy drops and do T-Touch and tapping treatments on her. Those things do help but I'd like for her to feel even better. Thank you for this superb article.

  10. Denee Cagle

    We give our pets benadryl to help them relax and sleep. If you have a muscle relaxer those work too. Not full human dose on either

  11. Gabrielle Smith

    What a wonderful article. I use something called The Rein Coat for all three of my fur babies. It helps the naturally produce oxytocin with a unique harness/coat combination. I highly recommended you check it out. http://Www.thereincoat.com

  12. Scout Gaming

    What I would do for my dog on the forth or guy fox is make sure he has a lot of blankets on his bed and keep a close eye on him, like where he goes I the house.
    Lying next to them I their bed can really comfort them aswell.

  13. Patty Aguirre

    Shai is under the care of a veterinary animal behaviorist following a traumatic sudden awakening by a close 21 gun salute. On New Years Eve, they continue after midnight in our neighborhood, do we can't avoid it.

    We use all the techniques in the article including the Through a Dogs Ear music prescribed by his VAB. But the music is too quiet when the fireworks are next door. We have find a unique way to use the music while muffling the sounds.

    Shai carries an iPod in the pocket on his harness loaded with Through A Dogs Ear music. We put earphones under Mutt Muffs. The Mutt Muffs muffle the fireworks and allow him to hear the music. He also has the iPod & MMs with him while working in public case we are at loud places.

    VAB has also prescribed Transzodone to help kept him under threshold in order to respond to CC/DS and refocusing him on doing something to gets his mind engaged. It's for situational use such as fireworks and storms.

  14. Al

    Tried the collar, tablets, drops, secret den, thing wrapped round their body and neck and nothing works. Even brandy doesn't calm the mutt down anymore. Valium?

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