Dogs and Fireworks: How to have a Fear Free Fourth of July Dogs and Fireworks: How to have a Fear Free Fourth of July - SitStay

Dogs and Fireworks: How to have a Fear Free Fourth of July

Border collie carrying a flag in its mouth on the fourth of July

If you have a dog that suffers from anxiety, the Fourth of July can be a day you despise rather than a day you celebrate. With loud fireworks and the possibility of guests at your home, your dog may cower under the couch or head for the hills. Here we have a couple of tips to help you prepare for the holiday so you and your pooch can enjoy the celebration.


What is Dog Anxiety?

Having an anxious dog can be nerve-racking for you as a pet parent but knowing your dog’s triggers and how to best help them goes a long way. Most likely, the Fourth of July brings on fear for your furry friend because of the loud bangs and cracks of fireworks.

According to our friends at PetMD, “the persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus is referred to as a phobia” such as fireworks or a thunderstorm. Noises are the most common phobias for dogs. Although your dog may not be afraid during thunderstorms, fireworks may cause them to panic.


Different Types of Dog Anxiety

Brown puppy on a leash in a park on a summer day

Even though noises are the most common phobia in dogs, they can also suffer from separation anxiety or social anxiety. Some animals become anxious when their owner(s) leave and others have a fear of new people.

You might want to think through your plans for the Fourth ahead of time and think of what you plan to do with your furry friend as well. If your dog also suffers from separation anxiety and noise phobia, leaving them at home may not be the best idea. On the other hand, if your dog does not do well with lots of people and you plan on throwing a party, prepare a place for your pet to stay that they will feel safe in.


Behaviors of Anxiety

Group of older dogs wearing fourth of July costumes

Although not all dogs react the same way when they are scared, these are things to look out for if you think your dog is having an anxiety attack.


  • Mild: shaking, tail between the legs, withdrawal, hiding, or less activity
  • Panic: attempting to escape, an increased random movement like running around or jumping frantically, or vocalizing like barking, whining, or crying
  • Anxieties: licking or biting themselves, bowel movements (diarrhea), or urinating in the house


Why is the Fourth of July so difficult for dogs?

Golden doodle puppy in the yard on a fourth of July picnic

For humans, the Fourth of July brings a reason to celebrate, have friends over, and be as loud as possible: for our pets, this can be absolutely terrifying.

Fireworks

Fireworks are the most terrifying thing for your dog. Loud noises for a long period of time without stopping and vibrations along with it. Your dog does not know what to expect and the loud noises may startle and scare them.

Lots of People

Although you may not be planning to have friends over your neighbors may be throwing the party of the year. If your dog has social anxiety all the people may cause them to have anxiety as well.


How can you help your dog’s anxiety this Fourth of July?

Dachshund looking anxious in a fourth of July parade

Exercise

By giving your dog a little extra exercise the week before and the day of can help tire them out and distract them from the chaos that is coming. Just like working out helps humans be happier and relaxed, the same is true for your pets. An additional walk or game of fetch can help them calm down before the festivities begin.

Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning includes introducing the stimulus in less shocking levels so your dog does not lose it completely, then giving your dog a reward for not freaking out. For example, play a recording of fireworks but not too loud and then give them a good treat to reward them for remaining calm. Do this a couple of times a day for about a week before the Fourth of July and your dog will hopefully be conditioned to make it through the night with no problem.

Anxiety Treatments

  • CBD
  • CBD for dogs with anxiety works through what is known as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a part of the nervous system that attracts cannabinoids such as CBD and distributes this chemical throughout the body. One part of the body it travels to is actually the brain where serotonin is released which causes the calming effect that counteracts anxiety and other behavioral issues.

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  • Distractions
  • Another helpful way to ease your dog’s anxiety is by distracting them. You can play games with them to keep their mind off of the loud noises outside or give them a treat that will take them a while to chew. Treats like bully sticks or the new yak's milk chews, that are becoming super popular, will keep them occupied for a long time while also giving them something they will love.

  • Weighted Blanket
  • Weighted blankets work through what is known as Deep Touch Pressure or DTP which is a form of therapy that mimics the chemicals (serotonin) released in your brain when given a hug or being held by a loved one. For dog’s, weighted blankets simulate this feeling and have been known to calm anxious dog through natural bodily shifts.

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  • Safe, Quiet Area
  • Lastly, make sure your dog is in a place that they feel safe. If they have a favorite room where they can be alone or with you put them there. If you are not planning on being home during the festivities give them space where they can roam around and play calming music to help cover some of the firework noise. 


    For pet parents, the Fourth of July can be a nightmare but through preparation and a little extra love to your furry friend you can both make it through the night with smiles on your faces. We hope these tips helped you know how you can prepare for Independence Day so you and your pet can have a fear-free Fourth!

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    How to help your dogs anxiety on the fourth of July By Baylee Dobler

    Baylee Dobler
    Baylee is a college student pursuing a degree in Marketing and Management. She loves to read and write and the perfect combo is to have her English Setter Maggie curled up next to her as she does so. Through years of being a pet owner, Baylee loves to help other pet parents know how to help their furry friends.