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How to Calm a Dog During Fireworks: 12 Vet-Approved Tips

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

scared corgi puppy hiding

How to Calm a Dog During Fireworks: 12 Vet-Approved Tips


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Fireworks are beautiful, colorful displays used to commemorate various occasions, whether it’s the 4th of July, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year, or just a fun neighborhood event. However, a fireworks display can be an absolute nightmare for some dogs and their owners. In fact, in the United States, reports of lost pets may increase by 30% after the 4th of July1.

If you’re not sure how your dog will react to upcoming fireworks shows in your community, it’s best to prepare them (and yourself) to prevent any unnecessary stress and anxiety. Read on for our tips on how to keep your dog as calm as possible during fireworks displays.

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How Do I Know if My Dog Is Scared of Fireworks?

Your dog will exhibit several very obvious signs that they’re terrified of fireworks.

This can include behaviors such as:
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Clinginess
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Escape attempts
  • Excessive panting
  • Holding their tail between their legs
  • Trembling
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite

The 12 Tips to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks

1. Stay home

As tempting as it may be to attend your city’s 4th of July fireworks show this summer, we don’t recommend it if your dog is terrified of fireworks. Stay home with them to help keep them calm. If you absolutely must go to the show, ensure your dog is safe inside your home and play music to drown out the sound of the fireworks.

woman playing music with her dog at home
Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

2. Remain calm

Sometimes, even staying home during a fireworks display won’t do much to quell your dog’s fears. Dogs have an extremely good sense of hearing and may still be able to hear the fireworks go off from your house. Make sure you stay as calm as possible, as your pup can pick up on your non-verbal body language. If you’re anxious about an upcoming fireworks display, your dog may be able to sense your nervousness and be on edge even before the show begins.

3. Play them out

Give your dog lots of exercise and playtime on the day of the fireworks show. A tired pup will be more likely to relax and even sleep through the show. Make sure you’re informed about the start time of the display so you can take them for their nightly walk well before the show is set to begin.

Happy boy on bicycle pursuits his pet dog running by park path on summer day
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

4. Block out the sights and sounds

Before the fireworks begin, close your curtains and windows to block out any sights and sounds your pup may pick up on. Turn on the lights so your dog won’t see the colorful flashes in the sky, and play classical or dog music to disguise the noises. Some doggy earmuffs can be helpful to reduce their exposure to noise too.

5. Recognize your dog’s needs

Not all dogs react the same to fireworks. Some might want to snuggle up with you in a safe space, while others may want to hide somewhere alone. If yours wants to cling to your side, let them. If they want to hide in the basement, let them (as long as it’s safe for them to be alone there).

hipster man snuggling and hugging his dog
Image Credit: Daxiao Productions, Shutterstock

6. Provide distractions

During the fireworks, keep them busy with their favorite toys or indoor activities. You can even give them something like a peanut butter-filled KONG toy.

7. Schedule meals and potty time appropriately

Proper planning is essential to keeping your dog as calm as possible during the fireworks. Make sure you’ve fed them and taken them for a potty break well before the show begins. The last thing you want is for your dog to go potty in the middle of the show but won’t because they are too terrified to go outside.

golden retriever dog eating healthy dry food from bowl at home
Image Credit: AYO Production, Shutterstock

8. Talk to your vet

Your veterinarian may suggest natural calming supplements you can offer your pup during stressful events to promote relaxation without sedation. They may also suggest diffuser, spray, or collar pheromones or melatonin to reduce anxiety. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe medication for your noise-phobic dog.

9. Create a safe space

Put your dog in a quiet room that can block out noises. If they’re crate trained their crate can be a great safe space. Bring in their favorite bed, toys, and blanket. You might even consider buying them a special new toy that they’ve picked out from your local pet store to distract them. You also play a huge part in making your dog feel safe, so spend the fireworks show in a safe space with them, providing comfort and cuddles if they’re open to it.

puppy lying in a crate with mat
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

10. Ensure they have proper identification

Even if you plan on spending the entire night of the fireworks inside your home, it’s important to ensure your dog has proper identification just in case they escape. They may experience post-fireworks anxiety that can stress them out for days afterward and may make them more skittish and prone to escape.

11. Try the Thundershirt

A Thundershirt is an article of clothing designed with dogs and cats in mind. It’s a calming wrap that’s meant to be used during stressful situations to help animals feel calmer and less anxious. They work the same way for dogs as weighted blankets do for humans. The constant, gentle pressure the shirt places on your pet’s torso can help reduce the heart rate, which may, in turn, lower anxiety.

12. Try desensitization

While desensitization won’t work during the fireworks show, it may be worth trying to help you with future displays. Try quietly playing the sound of fireworks so your dog can get used to hearing them. The volume should be low enough that your pup can listen to it but won’t show signs of stress or fear. This is known as the “below threshold,” and it allows learning to occur. Pair the sound of the fireworks with one of their favorite treats to help counter-condition them.

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Final Thoughts

Fireworks can be a real problem for noise-phobic dogs and their owners, but with a little preparation and foresight, you can minimize your dog’s stress and fear. We highly recommend skipping the fireworks show yourself to ensure your dog is safe and as calm as possible. Remember, prevention, distraction, and lots of snuggles and tasty treats will be your best friend during the fireworks season.

Featured Image Credit: Paul’s Lady, Shutterstock

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