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ASK YAP: My Dog is Afraid of Fireworks! Help!

Fourth of July is almost here and your dog is sensitive to the loud noises and booms that come along with this holiday. Know that your dog is not alone. The fourth of July and the weeks before and after can be a stressful time for your furry companion. Here’s a checklist to get you ready for the big day:

  • More dogs run away on the Fourth of July than on any other holiday. Make sure their chips and identification are up to date. Keep a close eye on your dog and be present with them.

  • Try desensitizing them to the noise. This can include playing the loud noises over the next few days so that they can get acclimated to it. This will condition them to not fear the noise. Note that this may make your dog even more stressed out, so if this is not working or you do not see improvement, stop this method.

  • For smaller dogs, have them wear their YAP Wrap to ease their anxiety. Bigger dogs can wear their beta noir harness. The clamshell design hugs their body and provides comfort.

  • Reisner Veterinary Behavior Services, LLC recommends cooking them an irresistible treat, such as yummy chicken morsels, special meat, or their favorite treat. This will keep them distracted and is there for reassurance that everything is OK. If their behavior permits, try making a game of it. There are also calming chews available for you to use along with this method.

  • Before the fireworks begin, tire them out. Take them for a long walk, play with them, and just use up all that excess energy.

  • One of our staff members recommends a simple breathing meditation you can do with your dog. Connect with your dog. This can be done by picking up the small dog so that they can lay against your chest and hear your heartbeat, or by getting down to your bigger dog's level and putting your head on theirs. Take deep breaths so that they can calm down and so that your heartbeats can synchronize. Do this for as long as your dog permits.

  • Keep them in a safe space. This may be a room where they can hide under the bed. It helps if the room is insulated from outside noise. Play some soothing music to help them relax before the first firework goes off. Turn on the TV. Put on some white noise. You are trying to create a calming environment that drowns out the sound of fireworks.

  • Studies show that being there for your dog is an important factor in easing their stress. They may run to you for comfort. They feed off your energy. If you are in a stress-free state and your dog sees that you are not afraid of the fireworks, this may help him understand that the noise is nothing to fear.¹

We know the Fourth of July can be a fun, but also a stressful time for some families. We hope that this guide can assist you in easing your dog's stress. We wish you a happy Fourth of July!

¹Gácsi, Márta, Katalin Maros, Sofie Sernkvist, Tamás Faragó, and Ádám Miklósi. “Human Analogue Safe Haven Effect of the Owner: Behavioural and ..Heart Rate Response to Stressful Social Stimuli in Dogs.” PLOS ONE 8, no. 3 (March 4, 2013): e58475.

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