Frannie says: fight the fear of fireworks


The 4th of July is right around the corner, and for many pups this is the worst day of the year. While giant firework displays are a celebration for humans, the incessant loud noises and light flashes can trigger dogs’ fears and anxieties.

Just like humans, dogs can manifest their fears in a very physical way. Many pups can become physically distraught during firework displays, shaking and hiding for the entire night, and some even have panic attacks. This stress and fear can cause a spike in cortisol levels which can take a toll on a pup’s health over time.

Also, according to the American Kennel Club, Independence Day is the single day where the highest number of pups run away, potentially fleeing to escape the harsh noises and stressors.

Here are a few tips to coach our patriotic pups through a tough night:

  • Walk your dog during the day to avoid the fireworks and to tire them out as much as possible before the displays start.
  • Don’t bring your dog to see the show. Keeping them inside is safer for their sensitive ears and can help them avoid experiencing.
  • Make sure your pup has an up-to-date ID collar and microchip to ensure they can be easily found and identified if they do find a way to get out. Double check that tags are legible, and their collar is secured.
  • Prep your home. Ensure all windows and curtains are closed to help muffle scary sounds while blocking out light flashes.
  • Model calm behavior. Do your best to also ignore the sounds and flashes yourself if you are home alongside them. Pets often mimic human behavior, and if you show signs of stress your attuned dogs will pick up on it themselves.
  • Add white noise. If you’re leaving the house to catch the shows, try turning on the television or some music for your dog to have background sounds to focus on to drown out the booms. This is helpful even if you’re home with them.

Additional ways you can muffle the fireworks can be running the dishwasher or doing a load or two of laundry so that there is a baseline of noise in the home during the firework displays.

  • Build them a nest. Create a comfy spot for your pup to chill out in if they become stressed. If possible, do so in a quiet corner of the home, away from big windows. This could be a basement or a bathroom if needed.

If your dog gets stressed every 4th of July, you should consult your vet for tools to reduce pup anxiety. Many options, such as medication or investing in dog anxiety vests can help mitigate acute stress and the health effects of long-term stress exposure.

A Downtown Dogs playdate is a great way to tire out excited pups before the fireworks start. Let them have some fun on the Fourth by bringing them by all their friends at doggy daycare starting at just $5 an hour per pup. Downtown Dogs is open July 4th from 6:45 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.”