6 Ways to Ease Your Dog’s Fear of Fireworks and Thunder

The "bombs bursting in air" can seem like the end of the world to your pet. Here are some easy suggestions to keep him calm during the noisy events of summer.

Many dogs have what some experts refer to as noise phobia. These dogs get very nervous, stressed, and even panic when they hear loud noises. And during the summer months, these are common occurrences. Here are some ways to help ease your dog’s fear of thunder and fireworks.

6 Ways Ease Your Dog’s Fear of Fireworks and Thunder

  1. Be prepared. If you know there are fireworks planned or if you have time before a big thunderstorm blows in, be sure to give your dog lots of exercise earlier in the day. And do NOT leave your dog outside during these times—more pets go missing during the 4th of July than any other time of year.
  2. Use white noise to drown out the loud sounds. Turn on a fan, television or play some calming music to help block out the thunder or fireworks. Don’t forget to do this even if you’re leaving the house. This is trick is also helpful for horses in barns — cranking up the barn radio can sometimes help.
  3. Try to isolate the dog in a kennel (if he’s used to one) or an area of a small room. Sometimes distressed dogs do better in a smaller area. Don’t leave them alone in the kennel if they are really panicking or you think they will panic. They could hurt themselves. Some pet owners have had luck putting them in the (empty) bathtub.
  4. Keep his mind busy by giving him a rawhide to chew on or a toy filled with peanut butter. This may only help dogs that are semi-worried about the noise, not those who really freak out.
  5. Try a Thunder Shirt™/anxiety wrap product or put your dog in a tight-fitting t-shirt (but not too tight!). These tight-fitting shirts/wraps act similar to when you swaddle a baby, making some dogs feel a bit more safe and secure.
  6. Alternatives. If none of these tips work or your pet is really stressing, ask your vet for any homeopathic remedies or even mild tranquilizers.

Note: As your pet’s caregiver, keep in mind that you need to remain calm. While you want to help soothe their stress, paying too much attention to them may reinforce their behavior.

Share your ideas for easing your dog’s fear of thunder and fireworks in the comments section below.

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Do you have a question or an idea for an article? Contact us!

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Ro

Calming collars for dogs and cats also work. Go to calmingcollars.com

flower14child@gmail.com

i acclimated my young shepard and she stayed calm during loud noises. But as she got older, she got more upset each year. Same house, same people, same love I wonder why

BryanG

I open the door and let that sumbitch run around like it’s a party. He thinks hurricanes are the greatest show on earth. He loves loud noises, thunderstorms, and fireworks. It’s called, letting them be a dog! Geez

Tanya

My 80 lb pittie suddenly became scared to death of storms fireworks and we have some kind of shooting range behind my house I have found that Thunder Wonders (You can purchase at Chewy or Amazon) seem to help the most and access to my other bathroom !

Nan E

Our lab cross becomes so distressed it breaks my heart. He salivates, pants, and his heart rate goes up. Fireworks are the worst, but gun shots, thunder, etc are bad as well. Thunder shirts didn’t work, and our vet prescribed meds that we had to give 3 hours before any noise, so that didn’t work at all. Finally the clerk at the pet store said she gave her dogs Quiet Moments Calming Aid with melatonin. It’s the only thing that works for us. I follow the dosage on the label for his weight. I highly recommend trying it.

Mike J

We are at our wits end with out little “Schneagle”. She is so terrified of those d-mn fireworks. I’m afraid she’s literally going to have a heart attack and we’re going to lose her. We’ve tried those Thunder Shirts, spent a good $50 or more and they didn’t help at all. She runs and tries to hide in the bathroom closet or under the couch and will stay there the entire day. I mean 24 hrs if she could. Wife tries to comfort her and she is just not the same dog anymore. She won’t eat or go potty and gets herself sick over it. Eventually she goes but not outside. Her behavior n fear gets worse every year these last 4 yrs. They start shooting those f/w in early June and it doesn’t stop until mid to late July. Yet it’s only permitted July 3-4 is all. Go figure right. A friend said ask vet for tranquilizers but isn’t that a little extreme. I don’t want her all doped up to where she could injure herself. Gonna call and ask a different vet. Ours didn’t offer anything we didn’t know already. Thunderstorms do the same thing to her. Just so afraid she’s gonna have a heart attack and we’re gonna lose her because of it. I used to love to watch fireworks, now I hate them with a passion the last 10-15 yrs. Our 2 previous dogs, a rat terrier and chihuahua, were terrified as well. Might try what some others have commented that worked for them but not getting my hopes up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mike J
Susan Higgins

Mike J, yes, contact a vet and insist on some sort of sedative. No animal should have to suffer that much.

Lark

I’ve been told that tranquilizers make the situation even worse for a dog as their limbs might be limp but their minds keep racing and this must make them even more anxious

Susan Higgins

Hi Lark, that’s incorrect.

Mandy

We have a weighted blanket and I often lay my pup on my chest with the weighted blanket over him and he stops shaking and calms down.

Jean

That is exactly correct Lark. Happened with my pup last year. Her mind told her to run, but her body was unable. She stood shaking and peeing with a terrified look in her eyes. This type of med has to be given early and doesn’t last long. Warnings are it’s easy to overdose. When people start with fireworks days ahead of the holiday, you’d have to medicate far too often. Maybe people should just grow up. Shoot your fireworks off on the day of the holiday or go to a planned event. At least those who require a little extra could plan for it.

Ginni

I have a 115 lb German Shepherd that panics at thunderstorms and fireworks. I hated giving him the Valium prescribed by the vet. A friend told me about a CBD oil for pets from a company called Humble Collective. I give him a dropper full and play classical music to drown out the noise. It works and we finally have a calm boy.

Jigglypuff

You shouldn’t hate medicine, it’s science, and since ya got extra meds please donate them to your local cat in need of calm.

Rhonda

My basset/terrier mix is scared to death of the loud booms whether it be fireworks, backfire or gun fire 🙁 I give him Benadryl and it helps calm him down quite a bit. Sometimes makes him a little sleepy so that helps!

vikki

What is the dose that you give your dog/ My dog is 36 pounds I don’t want to give her to much
+

Ron

Abby my Australian Shepherd/Siberian husky is scared to death by fireworks. Thunderstorms bother her somewhat but I can usually talk to her and let her know that she is safe. During the Fourth of July I give her dog treats that have melatonin. It’s called quiet moments calming aid. This product does seem to calm her down. Just recently I put one of my T-shirts on her and tied the bottom so it’s tight. I think she likes that.

DFranco

I have a 146 lb. English bull mastiff. He was frightened by fireworks as a pup b4 we got him. My husband and I acclimated him by making him lie down by us while sitting on the grass next to him and prepping him by making loud noises. When the first one went off he freaked but we patted him and covered him with a favorite blanket. He crawled onto my lap and after time and effort and reassurance that it was just a noise, he eventually calmed enough but needed physical contact to stay put.
It took 3 events, but now he shows very little fear of either storms or fireworks.
We, as the alpha, must not show fear or nervousness. If we show and exude calm and pleasure at firworks n storms, they pick up that it is not harmful, just loud.
Products are only temporary, we as the trainer, must help them see there is no reason to be fearful.

Cyndi Overhulse

I have 3 dogs who freak out at the fireworks & gunfire‼️ Any car backfire they panic all over. I’ve tried all the suggestions from F.A. to no avail. My 3 girls must be on top of me in my chair. I feel soo bad for them. Even have the music up way loud but the shooting is all around the neighborhood & to close to hide from. The car ride sure helped as the love to go byby but not for 5+ hours!

Marianne M Milner

No matter I try, nothing ever works foy my Carlie (chocolate mini poodle). When she shakes, the whole couch, bed or whatever she is on shakes. What kills me is she is the boss over my 3 other ones and its obvious (not in a mean way, just dominating) and yet when it comes to louds noises, she freaks out completely and it breaks my heart.

Anne Horner

I use an essential oil product that just rolls on the dogs head. I tried some calming treats,but none of my dogs would eat them.

Bonita Jane

Calms Forte a homeopathic, work well with my terrier. It even helped when I brought her onboard airplane trips.

Nita Shipley

I LOVE what Judy shared about the Essential Oils!! Lemongrass and Cypress!! For calming!! Thank you, Judy!!!! (I do know that Tea Tree is BAD for dogs — so avoid diffusing that around them, folks!!!) For myself, with anxiety, I’ve learned to use a combination that includes Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, and some others. This helps SOOO much!!! 😉

Bark Parc

Living in Atlanta, we experience probably some of the most violent thunderstorms in the USA…Here is a hack that seems to help many of my customers….
If you have an enclosed garage and the storm will come and go quickly, try joining your dog in the car…Most cars are insulated against both sound and smell and because the car is grounded by rubber tires, it isn’t effected by shakes in the ground…
I’ve sat through a storm or two with my Golden…It does calm him down…

Susan Higgins

Hi Bark Parc: If the structure is sound and there are no threats of tornadoes, we think that’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

Susan

I have come to the conclusion that thunder shirts don’t work for my Yorkie because he isn’t afraid. He just wants to kill the thunder and when he can’t he gets really frustrated and just wants it to stop.

Sheila Opper

Yep, that’s my Yorkie as well! However my Pom/Shid is very fearful of thunder and fireworks and just wants to go hide somewhere. He doesn’t like thunder shirts or any type of clothing. He wants held as long as we can cover his ears, but otherwise run and hide!

Tanya Riopel

Thunder shirts do not help my dog either. I also agree with what Amy Cooper said about not giving your dogs rawhide. I had a dog that went into seizures and died at the age of 5 because i was naive and fed him one of those bleached raw hide bones per week. It was a terrible sad expensive lesson to learn – after the fact! 🙁

Beth Mc

Read this because I have one cat that gets really scared. I shut all the windows and let him into the master bedroom and bathroom where he can find a safe place. Most time it is on a closet self behind where my husband’s shirts hang. He is our bravest cat, but hates thunder and fireworks. The noise doesn’t bother our “scaredy” cat one bit. Go figure…….

patty watson

Maybe a closet with one of those lights that run of batteries in there or a bathroom cabinet or so plus the radio going of nature sounds or something soothing to listen to or a kids tv show like the baby channel I heard people say that channel is calming BBC channel or something like that it is.and maybe lavender scents herbs hanging in there a safe for dogs that smell good or flowers.

Barbara Plybon

Our mini Schnauzer can hear a storm an hour before we do. Now it’s fireworks. During storm she wants to go to screed in door and watch the storm and that helps her. Our grandsons dog Saint Bernard,German shepherd mix runs and gets in bath tub. Go figure

Peg

I found a calming collar on Amazon. It is impregnated with calming herbs and really seems to help my Maggie, a chi/cairn mix.

Janice Bettencourtt

I have a Yorkie that is very afraid of the weather…sometimes when I walk out to the garage and let him see that there is nothing out there, he will calm down. When I go back in the house he starts again. I have sat in the garage and read while the storm passes. I will try your suggestions.

J. Hopkins

Thunder shirt did not work for my dog either. Tried several times.

Joann Clark

The thunder shirt does not help my Sadie , im wondering why not?? Maybe im not putting it on her right??

Cindy Sams

I had a vet tell me to try taking a dryer sheet and rub it on my dog when it storms. That summer storms have alot of static that a dog can sense and make them nervous.

Jenny

Hmm interesting…. Definitely going to try this out

Jean

I agree w Amy. Unless you don’t mind trying to avoid the possibility of an expensive it is it, DON’T give your dogs rawhide! Some dogs do just fine with it but sometimes it will swell inside their stomachs and can be disastrous

Carol Polenske

I bought my jack russel her thunder shirt 2 yrs ago could not handle the fireworks anylonger she works herself up so bad and just trembles …that particular year we were out of town o kenneled and out of her element and dealing with fireworks BEST $40 EVER SPENT , 1 little crack of thunder that jacket goes on her within 20 min shes calm and laying at my fee not drooling on my legs LOVE MY THUNDERSHIRT HIGHLY RECOMMEND !!!

Judy

We have a very excitable dog who freaks out before a storm and sometimes for no reason. I put about a cup of water in a small spray bottle and add10 drops of lemongrass oil and 10 drops of cypress essential oil in the water and spray around the edges on his lot and more on the corner post. He immediately begins to calm down and actually rub against the places I sprayed.

Sheila Opper

I have tried Peace and Calming essential oil on my Yorkie but he has such a sensitive sense of smell that most oils cause him to rub his face and nose constantly on the floor, bed, couch whatever he is around. And he rubs hard. So I have been hesitant to use any other oils. I do difuse some oils but in small amounts. I will try the lemongrass and cypress however. Thanks.

Jodie Fussner

Lost my Assie the on the 3rd of July… Found her 2 weeks later at some people’s home, she was such a good dog they were keeping her! Despite her collar and tags!! Starting on the 3rd this year again!!! All animals will be inside!!

Ann Teeters

I can’t imagine trying to put a shirt on our 80 lb malamute 🙂 He is the most skittish dog I’ve ever seen. Any loud noise or sudden movement, so fireworks really torture him.

Robbie White

I paid $50 for the Thunder Shirt and it made no difference whatsoever. Also tried some pills from the vet with no success. Poor Zoe (westie-schnauzer mix) suffers with panting and shaking under the sofa during storms and fireworks.

Wendy

I recently purchased a Zen dog shirt. Similar to a thunder shirt but lighter weight. My little man loves it!!! As soon as the thunder starts he wants it on. It has helped tremendously!!!!

Kim Blair

The thunder shirt really works well the best thing we have found for our 14 year old miniature Schnauzer.

Amy Cooper

Do NOT give your dogs rawhide!!! They are a chemical firestorm that can kill your animal if they ingest it!

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