The 4th of July brings a spectacular display of fireworks and an opportunity to celebrate national prosperity and patriotism. While it’s a treat to our eyes and an evening in awe while watching the sky light up in colorful bursts of pyrotechnics, our canine friends don’t particularly feel the same way.
Loud and continuous bangs can sometimes cause panic and anxiety, and in some cases, our beloved pets run off in fear. Luckily, the 4th of July comes once a year, and we can anticipate how the evening may unfold, and subsequently, we can prepare our dogs for the night ahead.
If the occasion brings you some concern about your dog’s safety, this article covers a list of tips to help you keep them safe this 4th of July.
The 10 Vet Approved Tips on How To Calm Dogs on the 4th of July
1. Create a Safe Area
Create a safe environment for your dog and keep it inside. If your dog has a go-to hiding spot, make sure it is clear and easy to access; at the same time, make sure anything that could get in your dog’s way is moved. Some dogs may get destructive if they are scared and panicked, so anything that could cause harm if knocked over or run into should be put away.
Make the room dark by closing blinds or curtains to minimize the intensity of flashes and bursts of color. Keep the windows closed as well to help decrease the loud sounds of the bangs.
Consider a dog crate where you can make a cozy bed with your pet’s blankets.
This will provide a safe and secure spot for them to hide. If the fireworks are close to your home, you could also consider taking your dog to a friend or family member further away.
2. Drown Out the Sound
You can use calming music to drown out some of the intensity of the bangs. Classical music can have a relaxing effect on dogs, and a Mozart playlist could help do the trick.
Apps like YouTube and Spotify also have playlists created with calming music for dogs. You could also leave your television playing or have the fan or air conditioner running to make white noise. The sounds will also be familiar to your dog, which will be comforting too.
3. Try a Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap
Just like a baby feels safe and calm when swaddled, a garment with gentle pressure can help reduce anxiety in your dog. Thundershirts are weighted blankets that provide gentle pressure, much like a hug, to help alleviate anxiety.
You could also make your own by wrapping stretchy fabric around your dog’s chest and shoulders or using an old snug T-shirt. Get your dog used to the garment prior to the 4th of July so they will be comfortable with it when the time comes to use it.
4. Try Aromatherapy
Your dog can benefit from using essential oils as long as there are no cats in the home and they are correctly used and not ingested. Lavender is the most popular when it comes to easing stress. You can add a drop to your dog’s blanket or bandana or make a spray mixed with water.
Store your essential oils safely where they are out of reach from your pet since they are more sensitive to them than humans. Speak to your vet for recommendations for different oils and how to use them.
5. Prepare with Exercise
Playing with your dog or taking it for a long walk or hike can help tire them as the evening sets in. If you plan a day of active playtime with your canine, it’s less likely to react to the fireworks from being physically and mentally exhausted.
Exercise can also lower stress and anxiety levels. Playing a game of fetch, walking, hiking, swimming, and tug-o-war are just a few of the activities you can do with your pet to expend energy while also building trust and companionship.
6. Cuddles and More Cuddles
Contrary to the belief that comforting your dog will reinforce the fears, fear of something like fireworks is well founded and real. Comfort and cuddles are helpful and perfectly okay during this time, and you should not hesitate to comfort your beloved pet with all the cuddles it needs.
Soft pats, words of reassurance, and being close to your dog will be comforting and will reassure your pet that it can rely on you in the future when feeling scared.
7. Fill Your Dogs Belly
Give your dog a big meal before the celebrations begin. If your dog feels full and satisfied, it will feel more comforted. You can also make sure you have snacks and treats available to help distract your dog if necessary. They can also be used to reinforce good behavior. Feeding your dog before the celebrations is also helpful for potty time. If you feed your dog about 2 hours before the festivities begin, its tummy will be full and potty time should be sorted. You don’t want a scared dog with a full bladder, and you want to avoid having to take them outside.
You can help your dog cope with the sounds of fireworks by desensitizing them. You can do this by playing firework sounds at low volume and rewarding them with a treat when they manage to remain calm. Repeat the process, gradually turning up the volume and reinforcing calm behavior, but monitor your dog for signs of anxiety.
You can talk to your vet or a professional for more advice. This process requires patience, and you shouldn’t push your dog. Start slow and monitor your pet closely as you progress.
9. Give your Dog a Massage
You can understand how a massage can calm your nerves and take away your stress for a brief moment. Well, it’s the same for dogs; a gentle massage can help calm your dog down. You can have your dog lie down on its back and gently massage its shoulders, neck, back, legs and ears. You can try a few simple and safe techniques at home but keep the deep tissue stuff for the professionals.
Stroke up and down either side of your dog’s spine with very gentle pressure, beginning at the back of the head. Keep your hands off the bone.
There are some calming points located on your dog’s head. Begin at the tip of your dog’s nose, where an acupressure point associated with calming and healing can be found. Gently run your thumb from the tip of the nose to the top of the head, going back and forth slowly.
We all know how much a dog loves an ear rub. Begin by placing your thumb on the inner side of your dog’s ear, near the base of the ear flap, and your index finger outside the ear. Slowly stroke out towards the end of the ear with gentle pressure, finishing with a soft pull.
Medication can be a last resort. You can consult with your vet to prescribe a remedy to help your fearful pet. When it comes to medication, allow your vet to guide you, and don’t try medicating your dog yourself.
Extra Precautions to Help Keep Your Dog Calm
A relaxed, confident owner is crucial to keeping your dog calm, and keeping your anxiety in check is vital. If the thought of your dog running off in fear is a concern, then make sure their collar, ID tags, or microchips are all up to date and registered.
If your dog ends up running in fear, you will have peace of mind knowing that it can be returned home and easily found. You can also make sure you have a recent photo of your pup in case you need help trying to find it. It’s not a thought we enjoy entertaining, but it’s essential to cover all your bases and be prepared, so it is a less stressful event for you and your pup.
Most dogs don’t enjoy the loud bangs of fireworks, but as a dog owner, being prepared can make a world of difference. A day of activities, a good wholesome meal, a safe space, and some cuddles are simple and practical tips to help ease your dog’s anxiety. Alternative methods like aromatherapy and dog massage are also great options if you enjoy exploring the holistic avenue of remedies.
Being proactive with desensitization can be highly effective for dog anxiety. The 4th of July doesn’t need to be a stressful time for you and your dog. By following these tips, you can both enjoy the light show and festivities.
Featured Image Credit: Lizardflms, Shutterstock