Does your dog shriek, cower, or cause general destruction when fireworks begin to light up the night sky on the 4th of July? Have you grown tired and bitter about this country's time-honored tradition because of how it negatively affects your anxious pet?
Step 1: Exercise your dog
Ensure you are giving your dog an extra long work-out before the fireworks begin. The more tuckered-out they are going into the evening, the less energy they will have to pour into rebelling against the loud noises.
Step 2: Create a safe space for your dog
This is going to be different for every dog. Some feel safest inside a crate, under the bed, or in their owner’s arms. Make sure this safe space is available for them to get to during the fireworks as this helps to provide a sense of comfort during heightened distress.
If your dog is happiest in your lap, but you cannot be home during the peak of the fireworks, find out where they typically spend their time when you are gone. This is most likely their second-most safe space. Make sure this area is available to them.
Step 3: Play some background noise
Running some soothing music, a noise machine, or a quiet talk show around their safe space may help to distract them from the noises outside and diffuse the shock of the loud bangs.
Try searching for “calming music for dogs” online. There are hours of free compositions available that are specially designed to help soothe your pet.
Step 4: Positive vibes only!
Ensure you are staying calm throughout the evening, even if they begin to get agitated. Dogs are very perceptive animals and often mirror the mood of their owner (it’s what makes them such great emotional support animals!)
As soon as you start to show your nervousness around them, it will likely trigger your dog to amp up its own anxieties. By remaining calm and collected yourself, your dog will be more likely to mirror your non-reactiveness. It will help them to learn that fireworks are not a threat, and therefore less inclined to bark or cry.
Step 5: Physical touch and massage
For many dogs, the calming pets from their human are the best anxiety relievers. Ensure you are regularly checking in with your dog, giving it plenty of snuggles and reassuring pats.
Similar to humans, dogs also hold stress in their muscles. Lightly applying pressure in circular motions around the back of their neck, behind the ears, and down the sides of their spine can help break up any anxiety-induced knots.
Look out for calming products that contain:
- This amino acid is found naturally in many protein sources, like turkey, and may support serotonin production. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for maintaining a healthy mood-state in dogs (and humans too!)
- By supporting calming effects on your dog's nervous system, they may be less likely to react to the fireworks with a high level of stress. Lavender is not just another scent to spray in the bathroom!
- This herbal source may help to support healthy sleep and muscle relaxation while maintaining level moods in dogs. Much like chamomile tea does to us, a small serving for dogs helps make them feel ready to sleep.
- Otherwise known as Vitamin B1, Thiamin may help support the central nervous system much like lavender does.
- This herb has been used by humans for many years. Scientists believe it works on brain receptors to help maintain a healthy, calm mood.
- When stressed, dogs burn through magnesium quickly, and when magnesium levels are low, stress levels are seen to increase more. Therefore, supplementing with this mineral is important in helping support a balanced mood in dogs.
- These cannabinoids have been widely researched lately. In the right doses, they are safe for dogs to consume and have been shown to be effective in supporting moods. Keep in mind when choosing supplements that CBD oil products are typically more than hemp products potent in their calming effects.
Please remember to first speak with your veterinarian before giving your dog any type of natural supplement. Each dog is unique in their needs and biology, and your veterinarian will help you decide what will work best for their needs.