If you're one of those people who promised to work on your dog's noise phobia or uncertainty about firework sounds last year, never got around to it, and now you're panicking because the 4th of July fireworks parties are right around the corner, don't worry - you know I got you! Here are some general tips to help ease your dog during the loud noises without having a ton of time to train beforehand. No judgement, we have all been there.
Here are my top 10 tips:
Opt out of bringing your dog with you to any big events or parties. Keeping your dog home during these types of holidays is best. Trust me, dogs don't love hearing the sky blowing up and looking like it's on fire. Note: Try to plan on being home with your dog to keep them company during the fireworks or hire a pet sitter who can hang with them. No one likes to be afraid and alone.
Plan to get your dog exercised earlier in the day. We want to have your dog's needs fulfilled before nighttime hits. We don't want your dog to be anxious and pent up as well.
Line up all of your white noise! Turn on fans, play instrumental music on the TV (YouTube is a great resource for dog music!), ask your home device to play some music for sleep, etc.
Close all windows and blinds so your dog can't see or hear out of them as much.
Prep a couple different types of enrichment ahead of time. For more on enrichment, see my Free Dog Enrichment Guide.
Have a couple of "safe spaces" for your dog to go hide or relax. Some dogs feel safer in their crate or might want to hop in the bathtub or hide under your bed. Wherever your dog feels safe, let them hide out and try to keep them company.
I recommend having some high value treats in a container that you can toss around whenever a firework happens. Anytime a boom happens, a nice treat party toss happens! If your dog loves toys, you can also toss a favorite toy to help positively distract them while also working on creating a more positive association with the loud sounds. Boom = good stuff happens for your dog.
Make sure your dog's microchip information is up to date, along with their tags/collars. (The 4th of July is a big day for dogs to bolt out of their house or yards.)
Have safety measures in place! If you are concerned about your dog running out of the front door when someone walks in or may find a way to scoot under the fence in the yard, take precautions to ensure they are safe. Bring them outside on a secure leash and harness/collar, put up a baby gate around the front door entryway, place your dog in another room away from exit points, etc.
When in doubt, talk with your vet. If your dog suffers from severe anxiety or fear due to fireworks and other loud sounds, it's worth discussing the potential option of behavioral medication to further assist during times of stress.
Don't forget to breathe and be kind to yourself! I know how stressful it can be for us pet parents to see our dogs in distress. Stress is inevitable and we can't shield our dogs 100% from it. Remind yourself that you're doing your best and so is your dog. It will pass. The overall goal is to simply make it less shitty, not perfect. :)
Don't worry too much, you got this! ❤️
Take care and talk soon,