For us as humans, the 4th of July holiday represents a lot of positive things: a long weekend, time with friends and family, summer fun, great food, and more. Unfortunately for our furry friends, the 4th of July means loud, noisy fireworks that cause nothing but fear and anxiety. If your dog suffers from anxiety related to loud noises, this weekend probably won’t be particularly relaxing for you either! Even if you’re home, seeing how upset fireworks make your dog is upsetting, but if you’re away from home, you’ll likely spend your time worrying about how your dog is reacting to the fireworks. If you won’t be home, we recommend considering dog boarding in San Diego County at Fon Jon Pet Care, a facility located far from any fireworks displays where your dog will get plenty of supervision as well as social time with other dogs.
However, if you won’t be away and prefer to have your dog with you at home, we have some expert tips for making this 4th of July a happy and calm occasion for you and your dog!
Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?
Have you ever wondered why it’s so common for dogs to be afraid of the sound of fireworks? Researchers have conducted studies to get a scientific answer to this question so we can help our dogs effectively get over this fear.
In one study conducted by academics at the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol, researchers were able to get a much better understanding of the possible cause of this fear. They found that a dog’s experiences early in life tend to play a crucial role in how dogs will react to loud noises.
However, another study conducted in 2015 at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Oslo found that this fear of loud noises may have more to do with a dog’s genetics than their experiences. After studying more than 5,000 dogs of 17 different breeds, they noticed a correlation between specific breeds and fear response to loud noises. Of the 17 breeds studied, Norwegian Buhunds, Shiba Inus, and soft-coated Wheaten Terriers tended to show the most fear. Among the least fearful were Pointers, Great Danes, and Chinese Cresteds.
In addition to this genetic component, researchers believe that the fear of these loud noises may have a simple explanation. To a dog, a noise like thunder probably sounds like a growl from a large dog. It’s understandable that a dog would be afraid of that! Similarly, fireworks make low, but loud, noises, along with a sharp sound. Being afraid of loud noises may be a result of a combination of nature and nurture, but either way, if your dog is fearful, you’re here to get some tips on how to keep your dog happy and calm this 4th of July!
Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm
The lead-up to holidays like the 4th of July that you know will include fireworks can be anxiety-inducing for pet parents like you who just want their dogs to be happy and calm, but with these tips, you can reduce some of that worry!
Create a cozy and safe environment
Dogs feel most comfortable when they have a cozy space that is their own, and this is especially important during moments when they may be fearful, such as during fireworks or a thunderstorm. This can be any quiet corner in your home or even your dog’s crate.
It’s best to set up a space that is away from windows, if possible, to reduce noise as well as avoid your dog seeing the fireworks. A perfect setup for your dog’s den includes a comfy bed and familiar toys or blankets, along with his favorite treats to keep him happy, comfortable, and distracted.
Play white noise or soothing music
In addition to creating a den for your dog to cozy up in, and making sure that all windows and curtains are closed to muffle the noise and flashes outside as much as possible, you can leave white noise or calming music playing for your dog to further drown out the noise. If the noise of fans doesn’t bother your dog, leave one running near his den, or set the tv to his favorite show. If he prefers music, place a speaker near his space and let his favorite music soothe and cover up the noise of the fireworks.
Comfort your dog
Along with masking the noise and creating a den for your pup, it’s helpful to stay home with your dog or to leave him with a dog sitter that he knows and loves. As much as having a calming den and white noise can help your dog stay calm, it’s even better if someone can stay home to comfort your dog when he’s afraid.
Just remember that you also need to remain calm and speak in soothing and even tones. Of course, sitting with him and petting him is helpful too. “Long, slow, firm strokes along the length of their body” are recommended by the American Kennel Club in an interview with Judy Morgan, DVM. It’s easy to become anxious or upset when you see that your beloved fur baby is feeling this way as well, but keeping your cool will go a long way in helping him calm down. Avoid speaking to your dog in a pitch that’s higher than how you would normally speak to him, because this may increase his anxiety. Your dog will follow your lead, so if you seem afraid, that will reinforce his feeling that there is something to fear.
Walk your dog before the fireworks begin
Walks are a great way for you to exercise your dog, provide him with mental stimulation, and tire him out before the fireworks start. Making sure they don’t have too much excess once the fireworks begin may help keep them calm.
In addition to that, you don’t want to be out in the middle of your walk when fireworks start, especially if your dog is afraid of them. Everything will sound louder outside, which will only increase your dog’s fear. To make sure your dog is safe, check that his leash is securely fastened to his collar or harness before you start the walk. You should also double-check the fit of your dog’s collar or harness so that he can’t slip out of it in case of any loud noises. Keeping your dog on a leash is a good idea even if you’ll be walking in a fenced-in area. A leash will keep your dog close to you and avoid him potentially jumping over the fence.
Talk to your vet
If your pet has serious anxiety issues, you may want to schedule an appointment with your vet ahead of the 4th of July to discuss whether or not medication may be helpful to your dog. There are also over-the-counter options available to help calm your dog, such as CBD, calming treats, weighted vests for dogs, and pheromones.
Weighted vests can be a great help for dogs, working the same way that weighted blankets do for humans. They apply consistent pressure to a dog’s torso, which may be very comforting during times of stress. Dr. Temple Grandin recommends putting the vest on your dog for about 20-30 minutes, removing it for the same amount of time, and putting it back on as needed.
Do the issues go beyond July 4th? Consider dog training
If your dog is especially fearful, and it goes beyond firework holidays or thunderstorms and is impacting his life, you may want to consider dog training. Proper dog training from a skilled trainer, such as those at Man-K9, may be able to help your dog become less sensitive to loud noises and any other fears so that his overall behavior will improve.
Another Option – Dog Boarding in San Diego County at Fon Jon Pet Care this 4th of July
If you won’t be able to be home during the 4th of July, Fon Jon Pet Care’s dog boarding in San Diego County can help. We provide close supervision for all of our campers, even during holidays when our office is closed for drop-offs and pick-ups. We remain fully staffed to provide proper care for each and every one of our campers. In addition to this, our location is far from any sounds of fireworks, so your dog will be able to spend his time here playing and relaxing without any worry of loud noises that will frighten him. When you drop off your furry best friend at Fon Jon Pet Care for dog boarding, you can relax while enjoying your holiday because you’ll be sure that he’s happy and safe!
At Fon Jon Pet Care, our campers are always treated with love and care. We want your dog to feel like Fon Jon Pet Care is his home away from home! Our unique dog boarding facility is perfect for your camper to spend his day outside running around and playing with other dogs. Dog boarding and daycare campers are monitored all day so we can maintain an active and safe environment. Our outdoor play yard is very spacious and has a park-like setting, offering a variety of ramps, kiddie pools, and other fun-filled activities available for them all day! In addition to this, we offer private play for dogs that aren’t social so they can get one-on-one play with our staff.
We have more than 70 years of experience providing top-quality dog boarding, grooming, daycare, and training in San Diego County. Visit our website or call us at (858) 490-2117 to learn more about our dog boarding packages. You can also make an appointment online!