The Fourth of July can be a rough time for dogs. For many, fireworks are incredibly frightening. A lot of people think dogs equate fireworks with thunder, but it can be much worse than that. With a thunderstorm, animals have a warning system based on events like changes in pressure or humidity. Fireworks, on the other hand, create unexpected loud noises (ULNs).
Fireworks Trigger Phonophobia
Phonophobia or the fear of loud noises affects people and dogs alike. Imagine you're a dog. It seems like any other night to you. You've had dinner and pooped. Now you're relaxing and getting settled in for the night and BAM! BAM! BOOM!
Out of nowhere, WW III is raging outside your window. Flashes of bright light followed by incredibly loud noises. Not what your sensitive ears needed at 10 PM. Remember, you're a dog, you have no idea why your senses are on overload, and your natural reaction is to freak out.
Make Your Dog Comfortable
Fireworks are not going anywhere. Unfortunately for our pups, they're here to stay. While we can't get rid of fireworks completely, we can do a few things to help our pups cope with the event.
Start Training Early
If you have a puppy, age 3 weeks - 3 months, now is a perfect time to expose them to unexpected loud noises. I'm very fortunate that my dog, Snuffy, isn't startled easily. I used to do things like drop pans while giving him his favorite treat. I did the same on vacation when we got stuck in a car during a particularly bad Florida thunderstorm. My neighborhood also has fireworks going off seemingly all year long.
Exposing them early on isn't a guarantee they will adjust to ULNs and a lot of times we don't get our pups in time to do the proper training.
In those cases, there are some things you can do to help the situation. First, and most importantly, stay calm. If you're nervous and on edge about the fireworks and their effect on your dog, they will pick up on that and react to you.
Provide a Soothing Environment
Next, stock up on their favorite treats and toys. Try to create a pleasant environment that will take their mind off the world around them. To further facilitate this, you can black out the windows and create a safe space. A safe space is just a place in the house where your dog feels most comfortable. When Snuffy is anxious about something, he likes to lay down in the bathtub. Some dogs may like to go in their crate or under a bed. Try to create an environment that blocks out as much noise and bright flashing light as possible.
When it comes to fireworks, the best thing you can do is be there for your pet. If you're not able to, contact your local pet sitter and see if they have someone available. Your pet will be grateful to have some human protection from the scary unknown. Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments.