We Love Fireworks, But Do Dogs?
While people may love the July 4th fireworks displays, many dogs, cats and most wild and domestic animals have a very different view. Animals naturally fear the sound of fireworks and other loud noises such as thunder, guns and other types of sudden noises. Keep in mind, your dog’s hearing is also a lot better than yours, so the sounds are incredibly loud and startling to even the calmest of dogs.
Desensitization is the best way to help dogs get through their fear of specific sounds and objects in their life. Desensitization is the process of gradually exposing the dog to small duration and low volume sounds, then providing praise as the dog can very gradually tolerate longer and louder levels of exposure.
This is relatively easy to vacuum cleaners and even the recorded sounds of thunderstorms, but it is more challenging to do with the sounds of fireworks. This is because both thunderstorms and vacuums have other pre-sound factors to help the dog to prepare. With thunderstorms, there is a drop in barometric pressure, which your dog can sense. They can also smell the rain and the electrical discharge long before the thunder starts.
With the vacuum, the dog can see the vacuum in your hand and can anticipate the upcoming noise. This helps to reduce the startle factor of the sound that triggers the fight or flight response.
Fireworks, on the other hand, have no advanced signals to help the dog prepare. To the pet, they are literally random, sudden noises, which creates a higher level of flight or flight and anxiety in the dog.
It is possible, particularly with the wide range of videos available online, to find recordings of fireworks and use the desensitization method. Try having them on very low in the background and bring the dog into the room, give them a treat or play with a favorite toy. The sound should just be loud enough, to barely hear with the human ear.
Ideally, start this as soon as possible and weeks before the July 4th fireworks events. Each week, increase the volume and reward the dog for staying calm for very sort to gradually longer periods of time. Never hold the dog or close him or her in the room, rather keep the exposure short and provide praise, play with the dog and give treats for staying calm.
Make A Fun Room
If you don’t have time to desensitize your dog, consider making a room in an interior part of the home that will be a safe place for the dog to go during the fireworks. Add in his or her favorite toys, spend time petting the dog and playing with him or her or even put on a radio, the television, or some recorded music on your phone to normalize the sound. Dogs that are crate trained may enjoy simply staying in their crate in a room where they can be with their family.
Some dogs also stay very calm during thunderstorms and fireworks with the use of thundershirts. These are wraps that go around the body of the dog and provide very gentle compression, helping the dog to feel very secure and calm even during loud noises.