Last night I heard someone shooting off fireworks in my neighborhood! I usually expect to hear them on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, but this was a bit early. After hearing the fireworks and then dogs barking on my street, I realized that now would be a good time to remind everyone to take a few small steps to keep your dog safe around fireworks this year.
My dogs seem to handle loud noises pretty well, but I have had some dog-sitting clients over that have been pretty scared by any loud or unexpected noise. If you have a dog who is scared of fireworks, remember these tips for this New Year:
Supervise dogs when they’re outside! Dogs who are otherwise fine in your backyard by themselves may become scared and try to dig under the fence to get away from the loud noise. Dogs have also been known to jump or climb 8-foot fences when they are very scared. DO NOT leave your dog in the backyard while you are out for the evening if fireworks are likely to go off.
If your dogs are scared of fireworks even when they are inside with you, try turning on the TV or radio to drown out some of the noise outside. You can also give your dog a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or plain yogurt and then frozen. Treats like these will keep your pup occupied for a long time and help distract him from the scary noise.
Make sure that your dog has a comfortable place where he feels safe to ride out the evening. Does your dog love his crate? Does he prefer a Mississippi Made dog bed in the corner? Does he have a favorite toy that he likes to cuddle with? Set up a space to make him feel as comfortable as possible.
There is a product called ThunderShirt that may be helpful for some dogs when they are anxious or scared. It wraps around your dog snugly and comfortably. It is designed to make your dog feel safe like swaddling does for a newborn baby. It is easy to use and there is no training involved! You can find a ThunderShirt in all different sizes at your local Hollywood Feed location.
Try Vet’s Best Comfort Calm. Comfort Calm contains natural ingredients, such as valerian root and tryptophan, which aid in your dog’s relaxation and in the reduction of anxiety. Available at your local Hollywood Feed.
Don’t Encourage Him
Don’t encourage fearful behavior by petting and coddling your dog when he is displaying the signs of fear. Petting him and giving him attention at his time will cause him to feel that he is getting your approval for fearful behavior. I recommend ignoring the behavior until it stops, and then showing positive attention to your dog to encourage the calm behavior. Read more here about ways to read your dog’s body language.
Check your yard for any stray fireworks that may have fallen into it before letting your dogs outside unsupervised. Some dogs may try to eat used fireworks.
Leave Dogs at Home
If you are not completely sure that your dog is comfortable and calm around fireworks, then PLEASE do not take him to a fireworks display with you! He may run away or become so fearful that he bites or injures you or someone else.
What other tips do you have for keeping your dog safe through New Year’s Eve fireworks?