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Have a Calm Dog During Fireworks: Easy Steps You Can Take
The 4th of July, New Year's Eve, and other holidays are often occasions to enjoy the sparkle and boom of fireworks. While a fireworks display can be a fun time for humans, more often than not it is the exact opposite for our pets. In fact, many dogs experience signs of fear or panic, which can leave owners wondering how to have a calm dog during firework.
So what exactly is it about fireworks that causes panic? Most often, it's the loud noise, which can be distressing to a dog's sensitive hearing. Though thunder can also cause panic in dogs, it generally begins with a low rumble that acts as a warning signal. Fireworks, on the other hand, are much more sudden, which can be startling to an unsuspecting dog. At the same time, the sudden, bright flashes of light and the smell of explosives can also disturb a dog's heightened senses, adding to the impact.
All of this can make a fireworks display a highly traumatizing event for your dog and if this is the case then you need to know what steps you can take to have a calm dog during fireworks. The one benefit we have with fireworks as opposed to thunderstorms is that we know when they're going to happen, which should give you time to prepare your dog for the coming stress.
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Follow These Tips and Help Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
Here are some helpful steps you can take to help keep your dog calm:
- Keep him inside — Since you know when fireworks will be happening, you'll be able to ensure that your dog is inside and as far away from the noise as possible. Even though it may be tempting to include your best friend, you should never take your dog to a fireworks show.
- Take him for a walk before the show starts — You can avoid problems by taking your dog for his regular long walk while it's still light out and everything is quiet.
- Give him a safe space — Since fireworks can cause severe anxiety, it's important that your dog has a safe space to retreat to. That can be a basement or closet or even his crate if that's where he feels safe. The important thing is that be away from windows and in a quiet area.
- Play white noise — One of the best ways to have a calm dog during fireworks is by distracting him from the sound with white noise. You can use a running fan, a radio or a TV, anything that will help to mask the sound of the fireworks.
- Close the curtains — Remember that the flashing light from fireworks can also add to your dog's anxiety, so you can help combat this by closing the curtains or pulling the shades for the duration of the show.
- Don't leave him alone — Someone should stay with your dog at all times during the fireworks, so if you're going to see the show then you should have a trusted pet sitter stay with him.
- Reassure him gently — An important thing to remember when it comes to having a calm dog during fireworks is that dogs feed off of our responses, so the more agitated you get, the worse he'll react. You need to remain calm and speak to him in a normal, reassuring voice. You can also provide comfort by petting him in long, slow strokes along the whole length of his body.
- Distract him with play/treats — In order to ease his anxiety you can try to distract him by playing games, engaging him with his favorite toys or giving him a treat. This is particularly helpful for Aussies, who are highly intelligent and react particularly well to intellectual stimulation.
- Try desensitizing him — To help decrease his anxiety, you can try to prepare him for the coming experience by desensitizing. This involves playing the sounds of fireworks at a low volume that won't be overly distressing so that he gets used to them. You can even couple the sound with his favorite treat to help provide a positive reference.
- Use a Thunder Shirt — Thunder shirts can be helpful tools to ensure a calm dog during fireworks. These are simple vests that fit snugly around the dog to provide gentle pressure, like a hug, which can have a comforting effect.
- See your vet — If none of the other steps seem to help and your dog is really struggling, you might want to consult your vet to discuss medications, like pheromones or melatonin, which can help to calm nerves. There are also over the counter treatments that might help, such as CBD oil or dog calming treats, but you shouldn't use any of them without consulting your vet first.
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Even Intrepid Australian Shepherds Can Need Help to Remain Calm During Fireworks
Of course, anxiety caused by fireworks isn't isolated to any one breed. While hounds and hunting dogs are naturally more acclimated to sudden loud noises, most other breeds can become agitated by them. This even holds true for normally well-adjusted Australian Shepherds, who despite their intelligence and dependability, can often be high strung.
If you find your dog is reacting badly to fireworks, thunderstorms, or any other loud noises, you can take steps to help. No matter what you decide to do, always ensure that your dog has proper identification attached to his collar so that if he should get spooked and run away you can be reunited easily. Remember that the key to a calm dog during fireworks is a responsible and loving owner ready to offer plenty of comfort.
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