Although most of us agree that the 4th of July is one of the best days of the year, but our four-legged companions tend to think differently. If there’s one thing that dogs almost unanimously hate, its fireworks. And who can blame them? The combination of their hypersensitive hearing, their fear of unpredictability and their inability to recognize that fireworks are not a sign of an imminent threat can leave even the bravest canines in a state of overwhelming distress and anxiety.
Managing Those Intensely Louder Noises
Now, we’re entering the weeks leading up to Independence Day, which means that we’re at that time when we need to think about our dogs’ needs as fireworks trigger their fight or flight response. This is also the time when many people in the neighborhood get their hands on their own fireworks, lighting them off at random times throughout the week, much to the dismay and alarm of our four-legged companions.
We know that when fireworks are being lit off, we as dog owners can feel helpless. However, there are ways to potentially calm them down to lessen the blow, so to speak.
Method #1: Create a Sanctuary in Your Home
Our dogs are creatures of both comfort and routine, and besides that, they are den animals, meaning that in nature, they prefer to hide in tight, enclosed spaces where they feel secure from predators. Using this information, you can create the perfect sanctuary in your home that lines up with their biological instincts. Find a calm, quiet and relatively dark area in your home, such as a closet or a corner of a room that’s free of windows. You can set it up like a fort so that they can feel enclosed in blankets, or you can put them in a crate if this makes them feel more comfortable. The more enclosed you make it, the less likely they will hear or see fireworks, and the more comfortable they will be overall.
Method #2: Turn to Music Therapy or White Noise
Fireworks can be less distressing if they don’t go off in the midst of complete quiet. By turning on some calming music or white noise, the fireworks won’t be as startling. You can use a white noise app on your phone, a medium-volume fan or a YouTube channel that plays music that’s intended for meditation.
Method #3: Give Them Plenty of Love
It’s no secret that dogs crave our attention in the form of physical affection. Dogs are quite dependent on us for their emotional well-being, which is evident by the way that they behave when we come home each day. We can’t take away our dog’s anxiety, but what we can do is be a source of comfort as fireworks are occurring through gentle petting, and speaking to them in a soft, soothing tone. It may seem like this isn’t enough to make a difference, but it can have quite an impact on their stress levels.
Method #4: Get Them Used to Sporadic Noises
One major reason why dogs freak out when fireworks are going off is because the sound is unfamiliar to them, and so they can’t determine what is actually happening. If fireworks cause a serious anxiety response in your pup, you might want to try desensitizing them to the sound gradually over time, so that by the time the Fourth of July comes around, they at least have some familiarity with the noise.
We suggest that you find a video of fireworks on YouTube, and start playing it at random times. Obviously, you don’t want to blast the volume, because this can just reinforce their fear. Instead, play it at a normal volume. Not only will it help them get used to the noise, but it will also train them to recognize that the noise does not actually lead to danger, while simultaneously helping them put a visual to the sound.
Method #5: Add CBD to Their Routine
Another thing that you can do, which more and more vets are recommending, is give your dog CBD. CBD is not a drug, but rather a plant-based compound that supports your dog’s inherent endocannabinoid system. This bodily system regulates bodily processes through chemical reactions that occur when cannabinoids like CBD are introduced to cannabinoid receptors located in every bodily system, including the brain, the digestive tract and the musculoskeletal system.
Several studies have found that CBD may decrease stress levels due to its ability to regulate the stress response and cortisol levels in the body. Dogs and humans process CBD in the same manner, which is why CBD can do for dogs what it can do for humans.
If you’re going to give your dog CBD for firework anxiety, or anxiety in general, first you must let your vet know, as they must be aware of anything you plan to give your pup on a regular basis to help with a particular issue. It’s also imperative that you give your dog CBD products that are specifically made for canines, as these contain dog-safe ingredients and have concentration levels that are appropriate for their breed and body weight.
We recommend giving your dog CBD daily, as this supports the endocannabinoid system in the best manner. As for the delivery method, we recommend either a CBD oil or a treat. CBD oils given sublingually work faster, but provide shorter-lived effects. Edibles like treats can take over an hour to peak in the system, but can work for hours. Choose the one to try based on your dog’s preference. You’re free to try both in order to determine which one your dog prefers.
What Not to Do
Now, let’s quickly go over the things that you shouldn’t do when dealing with your dog’s anxiety about fireworks. First, you should not take your dog for a walk during a fireworks show. Because their stress response can be unpredictable, your dog may try to bolt when they hear the explosion, and you may end up losing them. You should also never take your dog to a fireworks show, because the volume can be unbearable for them.
Keep Your Dog Calm During Summertime Fireworks is Crucial
To us, fireworks offer a beautiful display of lights that mark the most important day of our nation’s history. To dogs, however, those same fireworks are extremely distressing and fear-inducing. If you wanna be able to enjoy your holiday without worrying about your dog’s well-being, you can try instilling some or all of these tips.