The 4th of July is a lot of people’s favorite holiday…but not for dogs. According to a study conducted by Zazie Todd, PhD, when asked about their dog’s response to fireworks, thunder, etc., 49% of owners reported a fearful response from their dog. The most common responses to noises were trembling/shaking (43%), barking (38%) and seeking out people (35%)¹. Furthermore, animal shelters have reported 4th and 5th of July are their busiest days due to the amount of dogs that get spooked from the fireworks and run off (Baranauckas, 2018).
So, what can you do to prepare for the 4th of July to ensure your dog is not stressed out the entire night or run away?
Calming Treats for Dogs
Calming treats are a natural way to make your dog feel relaxed during fireworks. Heavenly Hounds Relaxation Squares and Progility Calming Aids are two natural treats that help dogs feel less anxious. Heavenly Hounds is a fast acting treat and can be expected to work within minutes of giving it to your dog. And your dog will love the peanut butter flavor.
Progility Calming Aid should be given 30 minutes before fireworks start. It contains L-Theanine which is a natural plant-based amino acid found in green tea leaves that can help promote relaxation and lower stress. Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, helps strengthen the immune system and aid the body to withstand stressful conditions. L-Tryptophan is a naturally occurring essential amino acid that helps enhance calming effects to reduce anxiety and stabilize mood. Melatonin may help reduce stress for dogs suffering from noise phobias or separation anxiety, especially in unfamiliar surroundings or situations. And it is cold pressed, which is a modern production process that uses cold temperatures to retain the maximum efficacy of all the ingredients otherwise compromised by heat.
Let Your Dog Burrow and Hide
The best option is to let your dog choose how they want to cope with loud sounds. While the calming treats are a great option, your dog may prefer to find a dark place to burrow and hide. Give them that option by prepping an area ahead of time. A donut bed is a great bed because the walls of the bed offer burrowing and nuzzle options for your pet. Pet blankets are another great addition for this so your pet can hide if that’s what they prefer to cope with the sound.
Desensitization and Counterconditioning
According to Zazie Todd, PhD, “The standard recommended treatment for fireworks fears is desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC) using recordings of fireworks noises”². To practice this technique with your pup, play the audio of fireworks at a sound they are comfortable with. Then gradually, increase the volume. While this is happening, offer treats to the dog after the loud bang of a firework– this is the counterconditioning part. Training treats are a good option since they are smaller, so you can use them as long as you are doing this technique. Depending on your dog, this will vary in how long this takes.
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