What to do when your dog is terrified and terrorized by fireworks.
It’s not uncommon for the sights and sounds of fireworks to be panic and anxiety inducing for our furry friends. Here are some tips to help keep them safe:
1. If they have a microchip, make sure it is updated with your current information. Be sure that ID tags are updated too and that your dog is wearing their collar and ID tags. A lot of dogs escape from their homes in a panic and go missing during this holiday! If they have identification, there is a higher chance they could be reunited with you.
2. Make sure all doors leading to outside and windows are closed firmly and/or locked. If possible, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to doors that lead outside, especially when people are coming in or out of the house. Secure any escape routes in your backyard, just in case, and make sure everyone in the house knows they need to be quick opening and closing external doors.
3. Close blinds and drapes on all windows and leave lights on in the house. It’s not only the sound of the fireworks, but also the lights and the flashes that can frighten dogs.
4. Do not confine your dog to one room. They may hurt themselves if they panic and are trying to get out. Make sure they are free to roam and find safe spots as necessary. You can even leave doors open to closets and the bathroom (my dog Tucker used a bath tub as his “safe space” during thunderstorms and fireworks). You can even drape a blanket or sheets over a table or chair to create a safe space.
5. Do not lock your dog in their kennel or crate. They may hurt themselves if they panic and are trying to get out. Put comfy blankets inside and drape a sheet over the top, but leave the door open so the dog can choose if and when they want to enter or exit.
6. Play music or turn the TV on or run a fan or a white noise machine. Anything that can help drown out or lessen the booms of the fireworks.
7. Take your cues from your dog. They may seek you out as a safe space and need additional support. It’s okay to support them in this way if they need it. Conversely, they may not want to be supported this way and may want to be left alone. Either way is completely normal and fine. We want to make sure that we are keeping dogs and humans safe. Scared dogs can sometimes lash out.
8. Try not let your dog outside in the yard or take them out for a walk in the evening. Try to get those things done earlier in the day if possible. If your dog does need to go out for a potty, keep them on a leash and go out with them in case they panic and try to flee out of the backyard.
9. If your dog struggles with fireworks, you may need to skip your evening plans and be home with them for support. This isn’t ideal, but panicked and unsupervised dogs can do all sorts of crazy things. A friend of mine had a dog that was left home alone on this holiday and she jumped out one of the second story windows (she survived and was okay, although a bit traumatized).
10. Try a ThunderShirt, calming sprays, plug-ins, or collars. You can also use a T-shirt and gather it up and tie it in a knot on the dogs back. You want it to be secure and snug, but not too tight or uncomfortable.
11. Try to act as normal as possible. If you are acting weird or abnormal (following your dog around and hovering, being overly affectionate, etc.) they will pick up on your nerves and anxiety and it could make them more nervous and anxious.
12. Give them something enjoyable to do such as a long lasting chew, stuffed Kong or bone, or a Lickimat. For the stuffed bones/chews and Kongs, put in the freezer so it lasts a bit longer.
Need some ideas on what to put in the bone/Kong or on the Lickimat?
You can use single ingredients or combine ingredients for an extra tasty experience!