How to calm dogs during fireworks

How To Calm Dogs During Fireworks

Yep, it’s that dreaded time of the year again when we need to do our best to calm dogs during fireworks!

Did you know that an usual large number of dogs (& cats) go missing every year on the night of July 4th when the firework craziness begins here in the US? 

That’s according to Pet Amber Alert because fireworks scare animals, yet this statistic is entirely preventable!

How?

By incorporating certain safety precautions and taking proactive approaches to keeping your pup balanced and calm. For example:

  • Exercise your dog throughout the day on July 4th
  • Dog-proof your home
  • Desensitize your dog (beforehand)
  • Play sounds to calm dogs during fireworks
  • Use the laundry room in your favor
  • Apply a crate hack
  • Try an anti-anxiety hack
  • Rely on relaxation tools
  • Offer long-lasting dog chews

How to Calm Dogs During Fireworks

How to calm dogs during fireworks

Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated in 2022. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you. 

Exercise Your Pups

My favorite proactive approach is thorough physical exercise! 

If you exercise your pup throughout the day on July 4th, especially in the afternoon prior to the fireworks, you’ll have a tired pup on your hands! 

Remember, a tired dog is a calm dog who is less likely to be upset at noises. 

Here’s what you can do to tire your pup out!

Walks or Hikes

Weather permitting, you can take them for a nice, LONG walk or hike. To increase the intensity of these walks, you can add a doggie backpack to the equation.

They come in a large variety of styles and sizes, and are even available for small pups these days!

My personal favorite ones are the dog backpacks from Ruffwear and One Tigris.

Check out my blog post on how to teach your dog to accept a dog backpack for more information on this topic.

To calm dogs during fireworks, exercise them during the day with dog backpacks
Ruffwear’s Approach Pack
K9sOverCoffee.com | Wally and his Commuter dog backpack from Ruffwear
Ruffwear’s Commuter Pack
K9sOverCoffee.com | Wally and his dog backpack from One Tigris
One Tigris’ Tactical Dog Backpack | Tactical leash by Mighty Paw.
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A post shared by K9sOverCoffee 🐕☕️ (@k9sovercoffee)

These two backpacks are super high quality. When I first began backpacking with my pups (back in 2012), I began with dog backpacks from Outward Hound.

I wasn’t overly impressed with their quality because they wore quickly, so I’ve been sticking with packs from Ruffwear and One Tigris ever since.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Hiking with Buzz and his dog backpack from Outward Hound
Backpacking with a dog backpack from Outward Hound, way back in the day!

If it’s just too darn hot to go for extended walks or you don’t have access to the cooler woods, you’ll have to stick to quick potty breaks as far as outdoors time goes.

Watch out for the hot asphalt when you take your pups out during the hotter time of the day.

That can do some real damage to your pup’s paw pads, so if you can’t avoid it, try getting your pup used to wearing doggie booties.

They will keep his sensitive paw pads safe for those outings. My pup Buzz is trying on Ruffwear’s Grip Trex in the picture below.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Buzz trying on Ruffwear's Grip Trex
Buzz with Ruffwear’s Grip Trex for hiking & running

Swimming

Swimming sounds like the way to go when temperatures are on the rise.

Granted, not everyone has the luxury of a readily available doggie pool in their backyards (we certainly don’t!).

The picture below was taken at the end of pool season in our Apartment Complex in NoVa.

K9sOverCoffee | Missy & Buzz Swimming With K9 Friends

There are, however, pawsome alternatives. Search for pet day spas in your area, which usually offer swimming sessions in their doggie pools.

K9sOverCoffee | Missy & Buzz Swimming At Riverbark's Indoor Doggie Pool
Missy & Buzz cooling off at a pet swimming pool in NC. Lifevests by Outdoor Hound.

You’ll likely have to pre-book them, so act fast! Or maybe you live close to a doggie beach ~ indulging in a dip in the ocean and running along the beach will make for a tired pup! 

Check out my blog post Where can I take my dog to swim? for more information on this topic, including water safety tips for dogs.

K9sOverCoffee | The Original Dog Beach in San Diego, CA
Dog beach in San Diego, CA

Fetch & Hide and Seek

Another fun way to exercise your pups is to play an extended game of fetch in your backyard!

Or how about some hide-and-seek inside?

That will also get rid of some pent up energy, both physical AND mental because your pups have to figure out where you are.

Check out my blog post How I play hide & seek with my dogs to tire them out for more information on this topic.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Missy & Buzz in the backyard with their chuck it kick it ball
Taking a break from a game of fetch with the Chuck-it Kick Fetch ball

How to Protect Dogs from Fireworks: Dog-Proof Your Home

Besides exercising your pups, it’s also a great idea to puppy-proof your home for the 4th of July festivities:

  • Lock windows, front and back doors, as well as the garage
  • Keep your dogs inside as much as possible, but also do double-check on that gate lock in your backyard 
  • Make sure your dogs wear a well fitting collar with their name tag– just in case they’d get out and lost after all

How to Calm Dogs During Fireworks: Desensitize Your Dog

Invest your time & energy into desensitizing your dog to loud noises ahead of the festivities.

Find a recording of fireworks (and/or gun sounds online), and very slowly begin to incorporate them into your dog’s daily routine. 

I found a good one on YouTube called Train Your Dog Tolerate Fireworks – No More Fear.

Check your own energy before starting the session and make sure you’re introducing the new sounds in a calm, relaxed way. 

Offer high-value treats like tiny bits of cut up hot dog or cheese to associate positive things (=the treats) with the sounds.

For more ideas regarding high value dog treats, check out this blog post.

Home Remedies for Dogs Scared of Fireworks

Home remedies for dogs scared of fireworks

Sounds to Calm Dogs During Fireworks

There are specific sounds to help calm dogs during fireworks.

Fast and hectic sounding music like Heavy Metal, Jazz, and Rock n’ Roll…are not it!

That’s because they increases the heart and brain wave rates, ergo the level of excitement. So don’t play those!

Instead, play slow, soothing music like classical music. That’s because it has the opposite effect and leaves dogs calm.

This was the outcome of a study performed on over 100 dogs over the course of one year. This was done both in shelter and home environments. (click for link to study)

The vast majority of the pups (70% of shelter dogs and 80% of home dogs) displayed the most calm behavior patterns when they were exposed to a single instrument.

That was mainly a piano that played slow tempos and easy arrangements, which suggests that a dog’s anxiety may be caused by an acoustic overstimulation.

Sounds to calm dogs during fireworks

Two experts in the field of sound and canine neurology worked together and created several CDs for dogs! Specifically CDs geared towards allowing dogs to relax in stressful situations caused by different catalysts.

Dr. Susan Wagner is a board-certified veterinary neurologist and has co-authored the book and CD series “Through a Dog’s Ear” with Joshua Leeds, a sound researcher.

So get ready to add some soothing classical music to your playlist, or play a few tunes yourself if you play the piano!

Use The Laundry Room or Closet In Your Favor

Back in 2017, I took a refresher class in Pet First Aid.

K9 Pet First Aid Dummy
Dog dummy in my Pet First Aid Class

The veterinarian who taught the class mentioned that dogs who have issues with loud noises do well in a laundry room with no windows with the washer and/or dryer going

An alternative is to close blinds and/or curtains if there are windows.

The reason behind this is that the monotone sounds of the washer and/or dryer provide a soothing atmosphere.

Hanging out in a cozy laundry room helps calm dogs during fireworks
Hanging out in the laundry room to calm dogs during fireworks

Cover Your Dog’s Crate with A Blanket or Throw

If your pup is crate-trained, you can take it up a notch and place their crate into your laundry room (or closet, if it fits!).

If it’s a wire crate, try putting a blanket, throw or crate cover over it. That will offer an additional sense of safety.

My pup Wally loves to hang out in his crate when he’s looking for some peace and quiet (fireworks or not), and I leave his crate covered with a darkening blanket on 3 sides.

Cover your dog's crate with a blanket or throw to keep them calm during fireworks
Wally in his covered wire crate

Wrap Your Dog With An Anti-Anxiety (DIY) Thundershirt

Taking it up a notch, you can also cover your dog – with an anti-anxiety wrap, aka Thundershirt!

The way it works is it applies gentle pressure to your dog’s body which has a calming effect.

You can either buy a Thundershirt on Amazon or come up with your own homemade DIY Thundershirt version using:

Note: Never leave your dog unattended when they’re wearing an anti-anxiety wrap and practice putting it on BEFORE your dog will actually need it.

…and just by the way, Thundershirts for cats are a thing, too! This sweetie was one of my client cats back in my professional pet sitting days, and it helped with her fireworks anxiety.

Thundershirt Anxiety Vests work for cats with fireworks anxiety too
Thundershirt Cat Anxiety Jacket
Anti-anxiety wrap for dogs to calm dogs during fireworks

Lavender Smell & Essential Oils For Relaxation

Another idea is to light a lavender candle to help him (& you!) relax. Just remember not to leave the lit candle unattended.

I recently found out about the company One Fur All who makes different varieties of pet friendly soy candles. They’re non-toxic to pets, unlike the regular paraffin candles. 

The Lavender Green Tea candle retails for around $21 on Amazon and lasts twice as long as regular candles (about 70 hour burn time). It smells delicious and I will definitely be lighting it on July 4th!

TIP: check out all the other different scents…Christmas will be coming sooner or later…

Pet House Lavender Candle

You can also use an essential oil diffuser! It’s been a wonderful tool in helping create a calm, relaxing atmosphere for my rescue pup Wally. He’s been with me since early 2019.

My favorite essential oil set from Amazon retails for $19.88 and includes 6 different oils:

  • Tranquility 
  • Breathe Easy 
  • Thrive 
  • Relaxation 
  • Harmony 
  • Calming Sleep  

I also went ahead and bought a diffuser, also on Amazon. It’s the Arvidsson 100 ml Essential Oil Diffuser for $27.99.

It has a metal case and has the option of 7 different light colors. I usually leave them off and only diffuse the oil, but that’s just my personal preference. 

Set Your Pup(py) Up With A Doggie Heartbeat Toy

For example, with the Calmeroos Puppy Heartbeat Toy with Heatpacks.

It’s super soft and snuggly, and comes with 2 heat packs and a heartbeat simulator. That way, it simulates the warmth and heartbeat of their mom and littermates.

Each heat pack lasts for about 36 hours, and the heartbeat simulator uses 3 AAA batteries (they’re included).

To wash the puppy heartbeat toy, just remove the heartbeat simulator and the heat pack.

I reviewed the Calmeroos Puppy in my Amazon shop here!

Reviewing the Calmeroos Puppy Heartbeat Toy for anxious dogs

Distract Your Dog With Scrumptious, Long-Lasting Dog Chews!

If your pup is still not snoozing after an active day, offer him a distracting chew.

For example, a:

Chewing is a natural doggie behavior and keeps their mind occupied! It also exercises their jaws and massages their gums.  

Bonus Tip: Freeze the KONG to make it last extra long!

How To Keep Your Pup Entertained With Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Nibs and a KONG Food Puzzle!
Making & freezing filled KONGs for the pups. I used plain greek yogurt, canned pumpkin puree and some Mini Nibs from Vital Essentials.
K9sOverCoffee.com | Wally with his Yak Cheese Dog Chews from Mighty Paw
Wally getting ready to chew on a Yak Cheese Dog Chew from Mighty Paw

How to Calm Dogs During Fireworks: Bottom Line

Incorporating safety precautions around your home (closing windows & doors) as well as energy-draining exercise eases dog anxiety during fireworks!

If your dog is crate-trained, use that to your advantage and cover the kennel with a blanket, throw or crate cover. Doing so will increase your dog’s sense of safety.

Try to set the crate up in a room without windows (walk-in-closet, laundry room).

Play relaxing doggie music or turn on your washer and/or dryer (white noise) if you’re setting your pup up in the laundry room.

You can also try a combination of:

If you have enough time to desensitize your dog to fireworks sounds BEFORE they’re going off, do it!

How to calm dogs during fireworks

How are you keeping your pup safe and relaxed when loud noises are on the horizon, pun intended? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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18 responses to “How To Calm Dogs During Fireworks”

  1. MilitaryWifeandPugLife Avatar

    I’m going to try your tips for the fireworks! Belle hates them!
    And I’m a lavender fanatic!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Let me know how it worked out!

  2. Kate Obrien Avatar
    Kate Obrien

    I feel lucky that we’ve never had a dog reactive to fireworks…and also lucky we live far enough out in the burbs that there aren’t any around!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      We moved closer to Ft. Bragg a few months ago, so I’m pretty sure that there will be lots of fireworks on July 4th…but the pups do really well around them, so I’m not worried at all 🙂

  3. Emma Avatar
    Emma

    Great tips. Katie was upset by noises for a few years, we don’t know why it started out of the blue. Now that she is losing some hearing she is fine again. I don’t mind noises at all.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Emma! There are benefits to aging, after all 😉

  4. Talent Hounds Avatar
    Talent Hounds

    Good point on not coddling your dog. Staying calm is best.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      I’ve seen so many small breed dog owners pick their pups up for the silliest reasons, and all I want to do is tell them “Please do yourself and your dog a favor and put the pup back down on his paws!”

  5. Beth Avatar

    Great tips! Barley is terrified of fireworks, so I always try to take her on a really long morning hike on July 4. Unfortunately, she’s so scared of fireworks that she won’t even take treats from me, even if it’s really high value.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Beth! Barley sounds like a good candidate for the music & white noise therapy…hope she’ll be able to relax on July 4th. Have you tried the laundry room option?

  6. Tenacious Little Terrier Avatar
    Tenacious Little Terrier

    We’re trying out the anxiety wrap this year. And giving some away later this month. Mr. N hates fireworks and our neighbors love them so it’s probably going to be a long two weeks!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yikes, poor Mr. N! Have you tried the laundry room setting? Maybe in combination with some soothing piano music & a few drops of lavender oil!

  7. Hawk aka BrownDog Avatar

    Hi Y’all!

    That’s lots of great info.

    Don’t forget my new home is http://www.browndogcbr.net. I’m still workin’ on it. I’m tryin’ different formats.

    I have a new one since my move. It is radically different from anything I’ve
    had before.

    Thank you if you have already given me feedback. If not, I would like to know if you like it.

    Y’all hurry on by now!
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Hawk, we visited your new website & left a little input 😉

  8. Diane Silver Avatar

    Great tips! We love Through a Dog’s Ear music. The laundry room idea is a cool one too. Makes sense… it’s like a white noise machine.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Diane ~ so cool to hear (pun intended!) that you’re familiar with & love Through A Dog’s Ear! The laundry room solution is probably most effective when older washer/dryer units are at work ~ the newer ones may be a bit too quiet. That thought occurred to me after I wrote the post 😉

  9. Pamela | Something Wagging Avatar

    We’re lucky that Honey doesn’t mind fireworks. But a very severe thunderstorm will sometimes make her nervous. I find that working on her training with a clicker makes her forget all about the storm.

    The last time we had a severe storm go through, I took her downstairs to practice pushing cupboard doors closed. She became totally relaxed trying to earn a click and treat.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      I love your active approach of distracting Honey with something she really enjoys! Finding the right kind of motivation works wonders!

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