While a lot of us are big fans of fireworks, they are considerably less enjoyable for dogs. The same bright flashing light, lingering smoky scents in the air, and loud booming noises that we find thrilling can be a quite a scary moment for them.
As dogs experience the world through their senses, this overwhelming event is enough to leave them shaking like a leaf, poor things. How, then, should you calm your dog during some fireworks?
Here are some tips to help make this fancy night-sky display more tolerable for your pup.
1. Dress them up
A quick and easy way to help alleviate your dog’s anxiety is to utilize the ‘wrap method’. Originally invented by a professional dog trainer, the anxiety wrap uses acupressure to reduce stress. You can DIY this at home by taking a piece of fabric or a scarf and wrapping it around your dog’s body.
For this method to work, the wrap has to go around your dog’s body with just enough gentle pressure that it snugly hugs him. This relieves fear as the sensation gives your dog a sense of protection. Like getting a big hug!
If you would prefer to hit the shops instead, these aids are sold under a variety of names with varying prices. A common one available in the market is the Thundershirt.
2. Keep them ‘under cover’ with a safe place readily available
Stop! Do not cover your dog’s head! Simply cover the windows by drawing the curtains closed. This is simply to minimize the flashing lights of the fireworks. By removing visual stimulation as much as possible, your dog’s anxiety will slowly begin to subside.
You should also make sure that your dog has a place to retreat and hide — a designated safe place. This could be under the bed, a walk-in closet (great option because the clothes provide extra sound absorption), under the table, or in a crate.
However, make sure not to confine your pup to one room as he may be more comfortable in his usual spot, or even beside you.
3. Blast the tunes
Mask the ‘boom’ of the light display by keeping the radio on. Certain types of music have been shown to be especially calming for our four-legged friends, with harp and classical music being popular choices. White noise is also effective as it muffles the loud noises more effectively.
Alternatively, if your dog is the type to watch TV, put on a cartoon, or any of his ‘usual’ to distract him.
4. Work it off
We all know that a tired dog is a happy dog, but a tired dog is also a calmer dog.
So, make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercises earlier in the day. Take him for a long walk, a game of fetch at the park, a run around the neighborhood, or get creative. Make sure it all happens well before the fireworks begin. If your dog is tired enough from these activities, he may even sleep right through it all. Mission accomplished!
What also can get your pup tired and relaxed is giving him a hearty meal, and keeping him sufficiently hydrated prior to the fireworks. We can deliver! A satisfying meal would definitely be appreciated to make up for all that noise.
5. Distract, distract, and distract
Leave your dog something fun to do for the evening.
Before the light show begins, give your dog a long-lasting treat. It will help him move his focus away from the fireworks outside and on to what’s important: A frozen Kong with peanut butter, a chew toy, or any of his favourite treats are all perfect distractions.
If you have any say in the fireworks happening altogether, abstaining from lighting up the skies would be highly advised. So many dogs — and cats — that run away from home can be spurred on their terrified way by this light display. And lest we forget the strays! They don’t even have a safe place to run to, or anyone to comfort them.
Whether it is Chinese New Year, or any large celebration deserving of fireworks though, we don’t mean to rain on your parade. With these tips in your repertoire, you can still enjoy the moment and also make it a pleasant one for your pup.