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Behavior Mod.

Is Your Dog Afraid of Fireworks?

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There are a few holidays throughout the year where we, for fun, blow stuff up. Yep, I’m talking about fireworks. Each New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July (and a few other holidays if you have overzealous neighbors like I do) I find my normally calm dog under my feet, trembling, sometimes almost panicked, as the barrage of explosions go on for hours.

We’re so accustomed to these holiday celebrations that the constant bangs and pops are fun (or, maybe a mild annoyance) for the most of us. But, imagine what your dog must be thinking! While I do swear that mine is the smartest dog on the planet, (heh, don’t we all make that claim?) I can’t very well explain that this is a holiday and we’re celebrating. So, instead I use these tips from CollarGirl.com (now bigdogboutique.com) to calm my dog that’s afraid of fireworks.

Is Your Dog Afraid of Fireworks?

Short term Quick Fixes:

Play! Depending on your dog’s level of anxiety (pacing vs. curled up trembling) simply distracting him may be the best course of action.

Play, sing songs, exercise the dog as much as you can to try and wear it out. Help your dog associate thunder with a fabulous playtime!

Crate your dog or move their bedding into a enclosed space like a closet. A dog who feels “safe” will be less anxious, and a “den” is the instinctual place for a dog to feel safe. It may help to cover your dog’s crate with a blanket or sheet to create a den feeling.

Create as much white noise as you can. Fans, TV’s, radios, etc. Try to drown out the majority of the sound.

Find a T-shirt that fits the dogs chest tightly and put it on them. No one knows why this helps, but many owners swear this makes a difference.

Over the counter sedatives (Like rescue remedy) or veterinary prescriptions like Ace or Valium are a good short term treatment- although not avaliable in an emergency. If your dog is severely anxious, try to keep a stash on hand.

Short term and long term, one of the most important things for an owner to do is not to coddle the dog. Cooing and petting are both”rewarding” actions for a dog- they are used as rewards in training- so what are you training your dog to do when you respond to his anxiety with petting and cooing?

Rather than babying your scared dog, try:

Singing a silly song

Squeaking toys

Taking the time to run the dog through his or her tricks.

Yawning repeatedly (really). make big, loud, exaggerated yawns- your dog will see your relaxation and respond.

Read the rest of CollarGirl’s tips here. And, is your dog afraid of fireworks? What do you do to calm him? We’d love to hear your stories and tips in the comments below.

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  1. Avatar Of James Yockey

    James Yockey


    Dramamine (OTC) was recommended to me as a temp solution for fire works and severe thunder storms. in appropriate dosages. Any thoughts

  2. Avatar Of Lorrie



    I give my dog a Lhaasa Apso 1/2 benedryl it seems to work but I have to give it to her as soon as the thunder or fireworks start. Poor baby is so scared. The Thunder shirts are so expensive and you have to purchase it before you can tell if it will work.

  3. Avatar Of Mark Estrada Mark Estrada says:

    My JRT freaks out at fireworks and gunshots…’Benadryl’ has worked great, and you can get it anywhere.

    • Avatar Of Lana



      I have a JRT and she is inconsolable when it comes to loud sounds. She hides under the bed and won’t come out for the rest of the night on every loud holiday… Do you just mean regular benedryl like for humans? Is that dangerous?

  4. Avatar Of Thundershirt Thundershirt says:

    Firework anxiety in dogs is something that has become a big issue for dogs and their owners. This can cause a lot of stress and can be very painful for dogs. We have had a lot of great discussions about dog anxiety on our Facebook page and have received a lot of great tips. We would like to invite you to check out some of the advice on our page or feel free to join in the conversation on our page. Happy reading:) http://www.facebook.com/thundershirt

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