How do you calm a dog during fireworks? These products might help. (2024)

By clicking on the featured links, visitors will leave NationalGeographic.com and be directed to third-party e-commerce sites that operate under different terms and privacy policies. As a participant in multiple affiliate marketing programs, National Geographic will earn a commission for certain purchases. See full disclaimer below.*

While most people may appreciate the sights and sounds of the Fourth of July celebrations, the loud noises of fireworks can lead to anxiety in humankind’s best friend. One of the reasons is their powerful sense of hearing.

“Dogs’ sense of hearing is more than 10 times more sensitive than ours. ... If you think fireworks are loud, can you imagine how loud they sound to a dog?” says Dr. Ruth MacPete, veterinarian and author of the award-winning children’s book Lisette the Vet.

And for many dogs, fireworks come as an unwelcome surprise, says Juliana DeWillems, owner and head trainer at JW Dog Training & Behavior Consulting. “Unfortunately, a lot of dogs are not exposed to fireworks in a positive way during their critical socialization window in puppyhood, and this can lead to fireworks being novel and extremely alarming to many dogs.”

Thankfully, there are some things you can do to ease your dog’s anxiety during fireworks—from taking the right steps to desensitize them beforehand, and creating a safe, quiet space for them, with plenty of treats and toys. See our full list of tips below, and read on for some products that may also help.

How to calm a dog during fireworks

We're sharing products that can help you calm a dog during fireworks celebrations and minimize anxiety and fear.

Try a ThunderShirt

How do you calm a dog during fireworks? These products might help. (1)

Buy it now on Amazon

A ThunderShirt is a calming wrap that applies gentle pressure around your dog's torso. These vests have been shown to be a highly effective way to reduce anxiety. “[It mimics] the comforting sensation of being held. This pressure can have a calming effect, similar to swaddling an infant,” says Dr. Kathryn Dench, chief scientific advisor at Paw Origins.

Several reviewers reported that it helped reduce their dogs' nervousness, although it wasn't a perfect solution. One found it helpful to condition their dog to associate the ThunderShirt with something positive prior to fireworks or thunderstorms. This technique was shown effective in a study conducted using products like the ThunderShirt to eliminate anxiety in dogs during fireworks.

Try a weighted dog blanket

Buy it now on Amazon

A weighted blanket has been shown to ease anxiety in humans, so it stands to reason it could do the same for a dog. However, some considerations should be made when selecting one for a dog, particularly regarding the weight. " Aim for around 10 percent of the dog's body weight distributed across the torso, avoiding pressure on the head/neck," says Dr. Daisy A. May, veterinary surgeon and contributor at All About Parrots.

The Nappy Puppy Weighted Blanket is designed specifically for dogs. You can select the type based on your dog's size, from small to large. May recommends introducing a weighted blanket prior to the stressful event. Several reviewers reported using this blanket during thunderstorms and fireworks, noting that it helped their dog relax and relieve their anxiety.

Try dog ear muffs

Buy it now at Ray Allen

Using dog ear muffs can muffle the sound of fireworks. "Ear muffs can be used in some situations, including fireworks, to address noise phobias in dogs. They work the same way that they do for people to muffle loud sounds," says Dr. Kate Kuzminski, a medical director at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Kuzminski recommends Rex Specs Ear Pro, which has a hood-like style that uses uniform pressure applied around your dog's head and ears. The foam padding can block out loud noises, such as fireworks.

Some reviewers reported that it may take some time for your dog to become used to them, although once accustomed, it effectively reduced noise-related anxiety. "Even if ear muffs don’t eliminate the sound completely, taking the volume from 100 percent to 25 percent can make a huge difference in a dog’s ability to cope," says Juliana DeWillems, owner and head trainer at JW Dog Training & Behavior Consulting.

Try a calming cap

Buy it now at ThunderWorks

Another element that triggers anxiety in dogs during fireworks is the visual stimuli. "The flashing lights and vibrations add to their sensory overload, triggering a fight-or-flight response," says Dench. A calming cap, like the ThunderCap, can reduce your dog's vision. "Limiting visual stimuli makes the environment less overwhelming," she adds.

The ThunderCap wraps around your dog's head, remaining secure with adjustable straps. Your dog will still have enough visibility to navigate its surroundings. However, if your dog's anxiety is triggered by sounds, you will want to use this product along with other methods.

Try a sound machine

How do you calm a dog during fireworks? These products might help. (3)

Buy it now on Amazon

A sound machine can help by adding soothing noises to muffle the sounds of fireworks. This "can actually offer not just a pleasant song, but sometimes offer a 'micro-massage' delivered via hair follicles that aren’t frequencies we can hear," says Ali Smith, professional dog trainer and founder of Rebarkable.

The YogaSleep Dohm sound machine can be a helpful addition to muffle the sounds of fireworks. It has two sound settings and high and low volumes, making it easy to adjust based on your dog's needs. Several reviewers reported it effective in calming their dogs.

However, to make a sound machine the most effective, you may want to combine it with other noise-blocking items, recommends DeWillems. "For example, you can go into a bathroom, turn on the exhaust fan, bring in a white noise machine, and also use ear muffs (if your dog is comfortable wearing them). This is likely going to get you much more noise reduction and therefore reduced stress."

Try a pheromone diffuser

How do you calm a dog during fireworks? These products might help. (4)

Buy it now on Amazon

A pheromone diffuser emits pheromone scents into the air, similar to what a mother dog produces to calm down her puppies. Studies have shown this can be an effective way of helping a dog with anxiety related to fireworks. "In my clinical experience, approximately 50 percent of dogs show improved signs of anxiety reduction when exposed to these pheromones during stressful events," says Dench.

The bSerene product line offers a variety of products that contain pheromones, including a plug-in diffuser. The diffusers can cover 750 feet and last for up to 30 days. Several reviewers reported that incorporating this product calmed down their anxious dogs and reduced their stress.

However, it may be necessary to use a diffuser along with other items. "Pheromone therapy combined with an anxiety vest makes for an excellent one-two punch during loud events," says May.

Try calming dog collars

How do you calm a dog during fireworks? These products might help. (5)

Buy it now on Amazon

A calming dog collar, such as Adaptil's calming pheromone collar, offers benefits similar to those of a diffuser by releasing pheromones that can calm down your dog. "These dog-appeasing pheromones (DAP) mimic pheromones produced by lactating broods after they give birth to their puppies and are thought to have a calming effect on dogs and a sense of well-being," says Kuzminski.

The collar may be an ideal alternative to the diffuser as it goes wherever your dog goes. Several reviewers reported that it helped their dogs with fireworks anxiety. Many noted a difference when their dog wasn't wearing the collar and relief once they bought a replacement. However, every dog is unique, and many reviewers noted this product didn't help theirs, so you will want to try it in advance before the Fourth of July.

Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?

Fireworks and dogs are usually a terrible combination. While some may not be responsive, many are fearful, especially due to their lack of familiarity and the noise level of fireworks. "Unfortunately, a lot of dogs are not exposed to fireworks in a positive way during their critical socialization window in puppyhood, and this can lead to fireworks being novel and extremely alarming to many dogs," says DeWillems.

Tips for helping a dog’s anxiety during fireworks

In addition to using products that can relieve your dog's anxiety related to fireworks, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Desensitize your dog: Prior to the fireworks event, you can gradually expose your dog to the sounds. "Train long before the fireworks are due, and ... counter-condition and desensitize by creating a positive association and a gradual exposure to fireworks," says Smith. She recommends using YouTube videos and slowly increasing the volume while ensuring it's a rewarding experience. A study confirmed that offering a treat while desensitizing can increase its effectiveness.
  • Plan ahead of time: Make sure you take your dog out to relieve itself and for exercise before the event. "By meeting your dog’s needs ahead of time, you’re making sure their “cup is full” so to speak, which sets them up to better cope with stressful events," says DeWillems. However, she advises to avoid making them overly tired.
  • Create a safe and quiet space: You'll want to create the right environment for your dog to cope with the fireworks. "Creating a noise-reduced safe space for your dog can help them feel more comfortable, especially if fireworks start unexpectedly," says DeWillems. Close the curtains, dim the lights, and make sure your dog has a comfortable bed, plenty of treats, and toys.

Frequently asked questions

Do fireworks hurt a dog’s ears?

Yes, they can because dogs' hearing is much more sensitive. "Humans can detect sounds at 20,000 times per second, while dogs can sense frequencies of 30,000 times per second," says MacPete. The loud sounds of fireworks can trigger fear and anxiety in dogs as a result.

Do Thundershirts really work for dogs and fireworks?

Thundershirts can be effective in minimizing dogs' anxiety during fireworks. However, Kuzminski recommends "[using] a Thundershirt as well as providing dogs with chews, play, puzzle toys, and treats." Several reviewers confirmed that using this wrap, in combination with other calming techniques and food rewards, was helpful in reducing signs of anxiety.

How to block fireworks noise for dogs?

You will want to try a combination of products, such as ear muffs and sound machines, and techniques, like being in a room away from any windows. This can reduce the sound of fireworks and dogs' anxiety in response to them. However, with any item you use, make sure your dog is comfortable before the event.

References

• Riemer, S. (2020). Effectiveness of treatments for firework fears in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 37, 61–70.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2020.04.005

• Riemer S. Therapy and Prevention of Noise Fears in Dogs—A Review of the Current Evidence for Practitioners. Animals. 2023; 13(23):3664.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233664

• Becklund, A. L., Rapp-McCall, L., & Nudo, J. (2021). Using weighted blankets in an inpatient mental health hospital to decrease anxiety. Journal of integrative medicine, 19(2), 129–134.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joim.2020.11.004

• Kim, Y. M., Lee, J. K., Abd el-aty, A. M., Hwang, S. H., Lee, J. H., & Lee, S. M. (2010). Efficacy of dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) for ameliorating separation-related behavioral signs in hospitalized dogs. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne, 51(4), 380–384.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2839826/

Nicole Pyles is a writer in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Mental Floss, Tom's Guide, WOW! Women on Writing, and more.

*Although we are sharing our personal opinions of these experiences or products with you, National Geographic is not endorsing these experiences or products on behalf of anyone. It has not performed product safety testing on any of these products, did not manufacture them, and is not selling, or distributing them and is not making any representations about the safety or caliber of these products or experiences for individual consumers. Prices and availability are subject to change from the date of publication.

How do you calm a dog during fireworks? These products might help. (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated:

Views: 6176

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.