- Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with updated tags.
Bonus: go to the vet microchip your pet.
2. Plan to stay in for the fireworks this year.
- It’ll be best for your best friend if you can stay in with him or her and talk softly and calmly while keeping them company in the safe place that you create (see #4).
- Play soothing music, the radio, or TV at a volume that muffles the fireworks noise.
3. Play audio of fireworks daily.
- You can use audio from a YouTube video.
- Adjust the volume low enough so that the dog acts normally (no ears back, lip licking, panting, random sniffing or other “not being himself” behaviors).
- Give your dog a yummy bone, bully stick, or kong to enjoy during the audio. Play audio for 10 – 30 minutes each session. When the firework noises stop, put the goodie away.
- Repeat this exercise twice a day, VERY gradually increasing the volume.
- If your pup starts looking anxious (ears back, lip licking, etc.) you’ve increased the volume too early or too much. Go back to a volume where your dog was comfortable. (Even if you don’t get to “full volume” before the 4th, being used to the noises at a lower level will help.)
4. Prepare a “safe place” or “den”.
- When dogs are afraid, they prefer small, enclosed spaces such as interior closets, bathrooms, or the space under a bathroom sink. Make the space more comfy with a bed and toys.
- If the dog is crate trained and relaxes in the crate, try covering it with a heavy blanket to make it more den-like. Soundproof the den area by hanging heavy blankets in front of windows and placing towels under the door.
- TIP: To create positive associations with the safe space, set it up in the weeks ahead of July 4, and let them enjoy treats or a favorite chew stick there a few times a week.
5. Try holistic measures.
- Scent therapy: Bach’s flower essences (Rescue Remedy or Rock Rose, available at Whole Foods – a few drops in pet’s water, follow label directions) or try a dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP), usually available at pet stores or your vet. It’s best to start these on a daily basis a week or two in advance of the 4th.
- Tactile therapy: A properly fitted Thundershirt may help.