A closeup of a pug staring calmly out a window at a nighttime fireworks display.

Fireworks displays, while exciting for humans, can be downright terrifying for our four-legged friends. The loud noises and bright flashes freak many dogs out, sending their anxiety into overdrive. 

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to know how to care for your dog before, during, and after fireworks.

Here, we’ll teach you to spot signs of fear in your dog while providing the best tips for soothing their nerves and helping them unwind once the show is over. With some preparation and patience, you’ll get through this together.

How to Calm an Anxious Dog

When those fireworks start popping, your dog is bound to get anxious. Here are some tips to help calm your canine companion:

Provide a Safe Space

Give your dog a comfortable area away from windows where they can retreat. Having their bed, toys, and you nearby will help them feel secure.

Use Calming Aids 

Things like a Thundershirt, anxiety medication from your vet, pheromone sprays, and calming music can help relax your dog. You might also try an Adaptil collar or diffuser.

Offer Distractions

Chew toys, puzzle toys, and interactive play can divert your dog’s attention from the scary sounds outside. Giving them a frozen spoonful of peanut butter or filling their favorite puzzle mat with a hefty scoop may do the trick. 

Make Sure to Stay Calm Yourself

Dogs pick up on our emotions, so remaining relaxed and confident will help keep your dog feeling good. Reassure them with calm praise, belly rubs, and gentle massages.

Your dog depends on you to keep them feeling safe and secure. By taking some simple steps before, during, and after the noise, you can help make the experience less frightening for your faithful friend.

What Are Common Signs That My Dog Is Afraid of Fireworks?

Some signs, like loud barking, are clear indicators that your dog is afraid of fireworks. That said, some — quieter — signs may go unchecked, but that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t need help. 

So if you’re wondering whether your dog is afraid of fireworks or just want to learn how to calm a stressed dog, make sure to keep an eye out for these behaviors: 

  • Pacing or trembling: If your dog won’t settle down and seems restless or is shaking, the loud noises are probably bothering them.
  • Panting heavily: Fireworks can cause anxiety and stress in dogs, leading to excessive panting.
  • Hiding or trying to escape: Your dog may hide under furniture, in the bathtub, or try to run away to avoid the scary sounds.
  • Barking or howling: Some dogs bark or howl out of fear, especially at the loud bangs.
  • Loss of appetite: The anxiety and stress can cause your dog to lose interest in food, even their favorite treats.
  • Dilated pupils: If your dog’s pupils are very large, it usually means they’re feeling fearful or stressed.
  • Accidents in the house: Anxious dogs may have accidents even if they’re house-trained, as tremendous fear can cause a loss of control.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog during fireworks or other loud noises, be sure to comfort them to help them stay calm. 

Staying with them, giving treats, belly rubs, and play can help ease their anxiety and make the experience less frightening. The more you work to desensitize them to the sounds in a positive way, the less fearful they’ll become over time.

Why Are Dogs Afraid of Fireworks?

The easiest answer is that dogs are often afraid of fireworks because the loud noise can startle them. These bangs and booms are enough to frighten most dogs simply because their sensitive ears pick up the noise much more intensely than humans can.

Also, unlike humans, they have no idea what is causing the extremely loud sound or why they are happening. Unfamiliar, essentially unexplained, and arguably scary, fireworks are enough to rattle most pups. 

Plus, it doesn’t help that fireworks are often unpredictable. Scattered, constant ‘bangs’ can put your dog on high alert and make it difficult for them to calm down.

How to Calm a Stressed Dog: Before the Fireworks

A little advance work can go a long way toward figuring out how to calm a stressed dog by working to make your dog less susceptible to stressors from the start. Make sure to do everything you can to prepare your dog for the long night ahead of time.

This especially holds true for holidays like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July. These are typically when the loudest fireworks go off, so do all you can to set your dog up for success.

Prepare Your Dog’s Space

Make sure your dog has a safe space set up before the fireworks start popping off. Give them their own room away from windows, where the sounds will be muffled.

We recommend providing them with familiar scents, like an old t-shirt that smells like you. Keep their favorite treats, toys, and bedding nearby.

  • Keep food, water, potty pads, and any medication in their space so they have everything they need.
  • Play calming music, a TV show, or white noise to mask the loud bangs outside.
  • Give your dog interactive puzzle toys with peanut butter or treats inside to keep them occupied.
  • Make sure they have a proper ID tag in case they get loose.

Stick to Your Dog’s Routine

Try to maintain your normal schedule and walking routine. Keeping up exercise and potty breaks will make your dog more comfortable in their space when the fireworks start.

  • Feed your dog at the usual time, and avoid giving them too many treats, which can upset their stomach.
  • Go for an extra-long walk earlier in the day, so they can relieve themselves before being confined.
  • Once the fireworks start, avoid taking your dog outside where the sounds will frighten them.

Provide Reassurance

Give your dog plenty of affection and reassurance to help keep them calm, but try not to overdo it. Try to act supportive without letting on that anything too unusual is happening, and your confidence and composure will help ease their anxiety.

  • Remain calm and confident for your dog. Don’t reward their fear by overly comforting them or paying more attention to them than usual.
  • Gently pet and speak to your dog in a friendly, upbeat tone.
  • Check on them periodically and sit with them for short periods. Your presence can be very comforting.

How to Calm a Stressed Dog: During the Fireworks

Once the fireworks start, there are some tips you can use to keep your dog calm during this time.

Stay Close to Your Dog

During fireworks, stay near your dog to help keep them calm. Sit with them, give them affection, and speak in a soothing tone.

Your presence will reassure them that everything is okay. If you’ve done as we suggested and prepared distractions, offer them to help take their mind off the loud noises outside.

Give Them Space to Feel Safe and Comfortable

Assuming you’ve prepared a safe space for your dog, try to sit in that space with them so they can feel more at ease.

Remain Calm Yourself

Dogs pick up on our emotions, so do your best to stay relaxed. Remain calm and continue with your normal routine.

Don’t give your dog extra attention or treats when fireworks go off, as this can reinforce their anxiety. Your relaxed demeanor should be enough to help keep your dog feeling secure.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If your dog has an extreme fear of fireworks that you are unable to manage, it may be time to speak with a vet or a trainer. They may recommend anxiety medication, pheromone collars, or behavioral therapy to help desensitize your dog to the sounds.

You may also be able to reduce stress and improve responsiveness to calming efforts through dog training. The most important thing is keeping your dog feeling secure and calm throughout the duration of the fireworks.

How to Calm a Stressed Dog: After the Fireworks

Once the fireworks show ends, your dog may still feel on edge. It’s important to comfort them and help them relax. Here are some tips to soothe your dog after the loud noises stop:

  • Give your dog affection and reassurance. Pet them, speak in a calm, gentle tone, and give them praise to help them feel at ease. Your dog needs to know that the scary sounds are over and that they are safe.
  • Provide a familiar toy or treat to help distract them. Offering a favorite toy, bone, or treat can help take their mind off the stress and give them a positive association.
  • Limit stimulation. Avoid turning on loud music, TV shows, or movies after the fireworks end. Stick to a normal, quiet routine to prevent overstimulating your dog.
  • Be patient, and give them space if needed. Some dogs may need time alone to decompress. Give your dog access to a safe space, like their crate or a room away from noise and activity. Stay close by in case they want affection or reassurance.
  • Make sure to take your dog out for a walk or potty break before bed. Exercising and going to the bathroom can help relax them and make it easier to sleep. Provide extra comfort by letting your dog sleep in your room or giving them something special, like a frozen treat, at bedtime.

Get Professional Help Training Dogs to Be Focused and Less Anxious During Stressful Times

With your love and support, your dog’s stress and anxiety should subside. However, if your dog remains fearful for more than a couple of days after the fireworks, it may be time to consult a professional. 

Greenlin Pet Resorts offers a full team of trained professionals who specialize in training anxious dogs. So whether you’re looking to help an anxious dog learn to socialize, or want to train your dog to chill out during another fireworks display, know that we’re here to help.

Best of all, our team even offers daily doggy daycare or longer dog boarding for all kinds of anxious pets. So if your pup is especially skittish or just needs a little love from an extra patient pro, make sure to reach out to the team at one of the six Greenlin Pet Resorts locations today.