Fireworks and Dogs – How to survive the holidays
The 4th of July is a fun time for celebrating, but not all of our four legged friends would agree. With BBQs and block parties also come the often dreaded fireworks. We wanted to take a moment to share the best tips we have to help get your pet through the holiday season.
Remember fireworks start early! Find out about firework displays that may be happening in the days leading up to the holiday. Often times fireworks will also be going off the weekend after as well so plan accordingly.
Do a perimeter check and make sure your fence is secure! During fireworks, dogs have been known to chew through, climb over or dig under fencing. On the day of the holiday, make sure to accompany your pet outside for evening time potty breaks. Typically I’ll do my last potty time with my dogs on the holiday around 6-7pm and then fireworks will typically be wrapped up around midnight so its safe to venture outside with them again.
Drown out the noise. Many people know to turn up a radio during the fireworks but there really is more to it than that. What happens when a song gets low and a loud firework goes off? During the holiday, starting several hours before fireworks are going to start, I’ll set all the TV’s in my house on to a loud movie. I’ll secure my dogs in the quietest room and close windows/blinds. I will turn an additional radio (at max volume if needed) on in that room and add a loud industrial fan. By using a combination of noises in other rooms as well as the fan/radio in the room, I can ensure that the dog will not hear any loud fireworks from outside.
Monitor the situation! If you can’t spend the holiday cuddled up with your dog, use a remote monitoring system to make sure your pet is doing okay. My own personal dogs are always monitored on a video baby monitor that I have on a drop extension cord out to where we sit outside and watch the fireworks. You can also use a wifi camera that you can remotely monitor on your phone if you will not be home for the holiday.
Use treats for a distraction. Prior to the holiday I’ll make sure to stock up on bully sticks, filled marrow bones, or I’ll fill Kongs with peanut butter. Find some high value chew treats to keep your pet distracted! With a young puppy its not a terrible idea to use high value treats and use fireworks as an training opportunity (giving a treat for every time a firework goes off. Just make sure to have plenty of distance and have your puppy on leash).
Start firework acclimation early. Before the 4th of July, spend some time searching youtube for videos of fireworks and play them quietly in the background while your pet is eating/sleeping. This will help acclimate the dog to the sound so that the holiday fireworks aren’t as startling.
Don’t be afraid to use medication or boarding. Prior to owning the OC Dog Ranch, I worked in multiple boarding environments and it was not unusual for owners to board their dog in safe, secure facilities located in areas where there would be little to no fireworks happening. Just be sure to ask the facility how they handle dogs differently for the holiday noise. You can also ask your veterinarian for prescription medication to help sedate the dog a bit for the holiday if your dog has very severe firework anxiety. Many owners also report using Benadryl for the holiday can help lessen a dog’s anxiety during the fireworks.
We hope these tips will help you have a safe and happy holiday with your pet, even if they have a bit of firework anxiety. If you have any questions about training or our programs, feel free to reach out to OC Dog Ranch at (949) 525-7362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.