Keeping your dog calm and stress-free during holidays with lots of fireworks (such as the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and other big celebrations) can be stressful if you aren’t sure what to do for your furry-friend!
When we lived in Denmark for two years, the celebration on New Year’s Eve was unlike anything I’ve ever seen!
Fireworks become legal for anyone to purchase and fire off during a certain period around New Years and Christmas, and let’s just say nothing could have prepared our dog (or us) for the hour-long firework display that was happening directly outside our front door!
Even I would have been petrified had I not known what was going on!
It’s certainly a beautiful spectacle for us, but was absolutely terrifying for our generally-confident pooch.
Because we’ve spent a lot of time researching and working with our dog to help ease her stress around times of fireworks, I wanted to share with you what you can do (and need to do beforehand) to make sure your dog is calm and safe during fireworks!
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Before the Fireworks
A couple of months leading up to any big celebrations with fireworks, you should play the sound of fireworks from a speaker within your home at a quiet level, and give your dog treats as the sound is playing.
You will gradually want to turn the sound higher and keep it going for longer to get your dog used to unexpected loud noises.
This won’t always work, however. We did this with our dog when she was a pup and she was still absolutely terrified when the real fireworks started going off.
Get a ThunderShirt
The mistake we made the first time the fireworks went off and scared our dog was that we didn’t think to order a ThunderShirt ahead of time.
A ThunderShirt is a vet-recommended anti-anxiety jacket for dogs that helps keep them calm in stressful situations without the use of drugs!
It’s kind of like the equivalent of a nice warm hug to us humans, but for your dog. And they work in any type of stressful situations (not just fireworks) so you can use your ThunderShirt whenever your dog might need it!
Speak With Your Vet
It’s always best to get an informed decision from your vet when it concerns your dog. If you feel your dog is not going to do well during the fireworks, speak with your vet to get some calming medication.
Some medications need to be taken a couple of weeks leading up to the big day with fireworks, so don’t leave this to the last minute!
Arrange For a Dog-Sitter
Last New Year’s Eve we knew our dog wasn’t going to do well during the fireworks. In fact, the moment they started going off about a week before NYE she refused to go outside to go to the bathroom.
We knew we weren’t going to be able to leave her by herself so we decided to be the designated dog-sitters for all our friends for the night who wanted to go out and celebrate. Plus who wouldn’t want to party with a couple of adorable dogs of NYE anyways?!
Even if you’re unable to stay home with your dog, arranging for a dogsitter or someone they enjoy having around can make them feel safer.
Update your Tags, Microchips and Vet Records
When your dog goes into panic mode, they are likely going to try and run to escape the loud bangs and retreat as quickly as possible to somewhere where they think they will be safe.
As scary as it is, lots of people lose their dogs during fireworks, so to be prepared for the worst case scenario, make sure all your records and tags are up-to-date and that your dog has their collar on at all times.
And limit any off-leash activity if you know there will be fireworks going off.
Keeping Dogs Calm During Fireworks
There are quite a few different things you can do to keep your dog calm during fireworks!
Close The Blinds
Close windows, curtains and blinds to get rid of any visuals of the fireworks. This can help to keep your dog calm as they won’t be overwhelmed by both visuals and sounds.
Stock up on Treats
Get your dog’s favorite treats ready and stuff a Kong toy to keep them busy (and full!). Make sure to supervise your dog while they are easy any bones or treat-filled toys!
Get Their Safe Space Ready
Wherever your dog feels safe, make sure you allow them access to it. Some dogs love their crate while other dogs get anxious being in it. Make sure your dog’s safe space is ready to go for the time they feel like they need to retreat somewhere.
Crank up Some Classical Music
There is certain music that reduces anxiety in dogs.
We found this music to be very helpful during the fireworks! I honestly didn’t think this would do very much but in combination with everything else, it worked like a charm to keep the dogs relatively calm and as stress-free as possible during the fireworks!
We crank up some music which drowns out the sound of the fireworks, but also magically makes our dog very calm.
Preparations need to be put in place to keep your dog calm and safe during fireworks. I hope these ideas will help you, and most importantly, your pooch, feel at ease during any celebration with loud noises and fireworks!
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About the Author:
Dana is a Sheepadoodle owner and expat in Germany. While living in Europe, Dana and her husband always make sure that when they go on road trips, their pup Kaya gets to come along. Dana loves to highlight dog-friendly places you can travel to with your pooch so that your entire family can have fun together!