How to Calm Your Dog’s Nerves During Fireworks
Dogs just don't understand Independence Day. We know the loud booms and bangs are to show how much we love our freedom, but dogs must think the world is caving in and they're about to get some shrapnel right in the hiney. We've got some ways to help calm the doggie jitters.
The vet labeled my dog Libby as a "nervous pee-er" and it's so true. She's a sweet girl, but if she thinks she's about to get in trouble she squats and pees. If a stranger reaches down to pet her, she squats and pees. Just when I think I've learned how to handle her by acting like nothing is ever wrong, here comes the firecracker noise and the anxiety rockets to a whole new level.
Loud noises naturally trigger anxiety in dogs and sound as loud as fireworks grand finales can send a dog right under the fence and down the street looking for cover. Running away is a survival instinct, and animal shelters always see a spike in strays this time of year.
So how do we calm their nerves this 4th of July? I've got a few ideas based on my own experience with pets, and some internet advice too.
1. Stay with them if you can. They trust their owners, and if Mama isn't freaking out maybe the dog won't either. Or at least not as much as if she were left alone with her imagination about what the loud pops could do to her.
2. Play music. Whether you're home or away if you can leave the radio on those drum beats might sync right up with the boom of the fireworks. And the dogs will never even know it's noisy outside.
3. Make sure the surroundings are familiar. Taking your dog to a friend's house can be stressful enough, and if there are also fireworks noises, well that's a double whammy for the poor pup. Home is better, and automatically the most soothing place.
4. Acclimate the dog to fireworks noise ahead of time. If the dog's ears can get a sample of the popping noises this week and we act like it's a good thing, the dog may be less frightened of it on the 4th.
5. Medicate. Some veterinarians say sedating is a good thing, and PETA suggests giving the dog melatonin. PETA says, "Give your dog from 1 to 4 mg, depending on bodyweight, and try to give it a little ahead of the fireworks, if possible." That will make them a little drowsy and they just might sleep through the grand finale.
Oh pups, July 5th is coming, and we know that no one will be more thrilled about that than you.
Until then, we'll give you lots of love and a few scraps from the grill, and maybe then you'll start to understand that 4th of July celebrations really are a good thing.