Many dogs are terrified by 4th of July fireworks.
If your dog is scared of the booms, there are things you can do to help your dog get through it.
Some dogs are so terrified, they can hurt themselves. It’s heart breaking and it can be rage inducing when the noise is illegal in your area. Worse, in most areas, it goes on for weeks, not just one night.
Best bets to help your dog cope with fear of fireworks
1. Play white noise.
While music can help, music has moments when it’s louder and quieter. BOOMS can easily get through and be noticeable to your dog.
White, brown, or pink noise provides steady masking of sounds and even if the explosions are still hearable, it smoothes them over.
To get white noise, you can use a fan. You can also find free noise apps for your devices or play this white noise on your laptop.
Any noise “color” will work and you may want to pick the one that sounds the most pleasant to you. (I prefer pink.)
2. If your dog is terrified, ask your veterinarian if medications are appropriate.
There is a medication specifically for noise phobias called Sileo, and there are also other other medications that your vet may want to give your dog.
Many people don’t even think that their vet may be a rich resource of help for severe reactions to 4th of July noise. I hope you won’t hesitate to reach out to your vet.
3. Teaching your dog happy associations can help.
Dogs are so skilled at making associations. We can use this talent to help them feel better about things that scare them.
When working to change a dog’s emotions, we use soft, smelly people food chopped into tiny pieces (so that we can use a lot of them and not make them sick,)
Every time you hear a BOOM, give your dog a tiny bit of chicken, cheese, beef, or something else they love.
The BOOM predicts the treat. (Not reaching for the treat, or preparing the treats.)
If your dog is ok enough to take a treat, you will soon see a wagging tail every time there’s a boom, as they look to you anticipating something yummy.
Some people suggest the following, but they may not be appropriate for severe reactions to 4th of July noise.
4. DAP: Dog Appeasing Pheremone
Some people feel this scent helps calm their dog. If your dog is scared enough to be self-harming, this may not be enough.
It comes in room spray, diffusers, and collars.
Many people want to give CBD as a first line treatment for dog pain, aggression, and fear issues. If you’re buying pet CBD, it’s not regulated and there isn’t any way to know if you’re getting what the label says.
If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, you may be able to get tested CBD made for humans, with known potency.
But in both cases, there’s not been good research on effectiveness or short or long term impact to dogs.
There is mixed evidence on whether deep pressure shirts work on dogs who are scared of fireworks. It won’t hurt anything.
Other Pet Safety Tips for the 4th of July
This is a time when many pets run away from home because they’re so scared. They may break through fencing, dig out, or jump your fence.
The 5th of July is THE BIGGEST DAY for stray animals to be turned into shelters.
7. If your pet runs away, make sure they can be reunited.
Make sure your pet has current identification on and has a microchip with up to date information. You don’t even need to pay an annual fee these days. There are several free microchip registries including Free Pet Chip Registry.
8. Walk the perimeter of your yard and make sure fences and gates are secure.
When a pet is in a panic, they may be able to jump higher or even knock gates open.
9. If your pet does go missing, there are resources that can help.
Kayla Block, MA, CTC
Owner, Understanding Dog Training
Dogs do what works! And if what your dog is doing, isn't working for YOU, let's talk!