- To keep your dog calm during scary situations, like fireworks, try putting him in a Thundershirt.
- You should also take your dog to the most soundproof place in your home and comfort him.
- Natural remedies like L-theanine or casein can also help calm your dog.
If your dog is afraid of loud noises, he’s not alone. About half of dog owners in a 2013 study reported that their dog showed at least one sign of fear when exposed to loud noises. Some common telltale signs of fear in dogs include shaking, whining, hiding, or crashing.
If your dog is showing signs that he is afraid, or if you know he will be exposed to a trigger that will scare him (like fireworks or thunder), there are many things you can do to help him. to feel more comfortable.
Here are nine ways to keep your dogs calm during a scary situation.
1. Stay by their side
Just being with your dog can calm him down. “Your soothing words and company can be a source of comfort, in addition to playing with them and giving them treats and their favorite toys to distract them,” says Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, Veterinary Medical Advisor for Rover.
Being around your dog is especially important if this is their first experience with something that might be scary, like fireworks, Greenstein says. This is because you don’t know how they will react and if there is a risk of them running away.
2. Create a cozy hiding place
Some dogs tend to hide when they’re scared, so they seek out an enclosed hiding place like the bathtub or the space under your bed.
If you find them like that, leave them alone. “Don’t try to drag them out of hiding. If they feel safe there, let them feel safe there,” says Dr. Dennis Leon, founder and medical director of Viva Pet Care.
What you can do is make the hiding place as comfortable as possible for them, by providing them with blankets and toys, for example.
3. Drown out the noise
You can mask the sound of fireworks by playing other noises to distract your dog. Greenstein recommends:
It’s a great, easy way to shield fearful pets from sudden and potentially frightening sounds, says Greenstein. However, since dogs’ ears are more sensitive than ours and can hear more than us, it’s not necessarily foolproof, but it can help.
4. Move to a soundproof area
You’ll definitely want to keep your dog safe indoors during scary times, but you can increase that by keeping activities in a more soundproof area of the house, like the basement, says Greenstein.
If you don’t have a basement, just be sure to keep your windows closed to muffle the sound as much as possible, while also putting on some white noise, music, or TV to help.
5. Use pheromones
Pheromones are naturally produced chemicals that dogs release for many reasons, such as finding a mate or bonding with their babies. However, you can buy synthetic pheromones at pet stores or online that mimic those that female dogs release naturally when their babies are young and nursing, Leon says.
These pheromones have a calming effect on dogs as they biologically remind them to be a safe pup with their mother. Leon says one of the most common and reputable brands is Adaptil. Another you can find is NaturVet.
You can get these synthetic pheromones in a variety of forms, including:
6. Put them in a Thundershirt
Thundershirts or Thunder jackets help some dogs. It is basically a vest that is pulled on tight to apply pressure to the dog’s body.
“Their snug fit can provide a source of calm and comfort, similar to a weighted blanket in people,” says Greenstein.
Make sure you have it tight enough that it actually relieves. If it is too loose, the desired effect will not occur.
7. Give them natural supplements/remedies
Some over-the-counter natural supplements can help your dog relax. Some examples are:
Supplement blends are also available. Leon says one product vets trust is Composure Pro.
CBD has also become increasingly popular for dogs with anxiety, says Leon. However, he recommends checking with your veterinarian for dosage instructions. Don’t offer your dog a CBD product you bought for yourself or another human and assume the dosage would be the same for them.
You should only give your dog supplements under the direction of your veterinarian. Leon says your vet can make sure there are no contraindications, including harmful interactions with other medications your pet is taking.
8. Give them prescription drugs
If your dog’s anxiety is severe and he has a history of intense fear in frightening situations, talk to your veterinarian about prescription medications.
Leon says some commonly prescribed medications are:
9. Desensitization and counter-conditioning
Although it’s not a quick fix for fear in the moment, desensitization can help your dog be less afraid of scary situations in the long run.
Desensitization is essentially exposure therapy for dogs. Leon says that in non-scary situations, you can play YouTube videos that have fireworks sounds, for example. Start by playing at low volume. Over time, increase the volume to slowly expose your dog more and more.
Do this while you play with your dog and give him treats so he becomes more desensitized to sounds and eventually associates sounds with positive feelings and rewards.
No pet parent wants to see their pet suffer when they are scared. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to make your pup feel safer and more comfortable in scary situations, from just showing him some love to using synthetic pheromones to administration of prescription drugs. Do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice along the way.