The Fourth of July is coming up, meaning many dog owners will be dealing with howling, barking, and generally anxious dogs. It’s largely believed that Independence Day is the day when the highest number of dogs run away. But just what are the dogs afraid of?

How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

If your dog doesn’t cope well during thunderstorms, there’s a good chance that they are likely to be afraid of fireworks. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your dog. Here are nine expert-approved tips to prevent your dog from freaking out during fireworks.

1. Keep Your Dog Away From Fireworks

This may seem like common sense, but if your dog is afraid of fireworks, don’t take your dogs to fireworks shows, and don’t leave them outside during fireworks.  Keeping your dog inside in the evening on the Fourth of July is the best idea, especially if you fear they might not react well.

2. Make Sure Your Pet Has Proper ID

Ensure that the information on your pet’s collar is current and make sure your dog is microchipped and has a GPS device. “If they escape, there’s a better chance they’ll get returned,” says Morgan.

3. Create a Safe Haven For Your Dog

Morgan recommends creating a place where your dog will (hopefully) feel comfortable. “You should get your pet used to a calming environment beforehand. Dogs are den animals — they’re looking for that cave to get away from it all.”

Try setting up an area in a quiet space away from windows — such as a basement or a larger closet — so that they can’t hear or see fireworks. Use a crate, if that’s where your dog feels safe, and cover it with blankets, to absorb noise and make it more like a cave.   Make sure to provide your pup with familiar toys and treats.

4. Comfort Your Dog

If you can, try staying home with your dog or leaving them in the hands of a trusted person. Having company will make the evening much more bearable.

Another trick is to give them some calming treats.  Doc’s Pet makes some very effective Hemp Treats.

Try your best to remain calm and reassuring to help your canine companion.

5. Play Music or White Noise

Many homeowners leave music on for their pets when they leave the house, to limit the noise from outside and keep their dog calm during fireworks.   This will also help with fireworks.  You can also leave a fan or TV on, to help mask the sounds of the fireworks. Check out a classical music selection called ‘Through A Dog’s Ear’ that has been shown to have calming effects for dogs.

6. Walk Them Before the Fireworks Start

Head out for your long walk before the sun sets to increase the chances that you’ll avoid the sounds. When you do go out, you’ll want to ensure your dog is secure on a leash before your walk.

Double-check the fit of your dog’s collar or harness before going outside.  A leash, even if you have a fenced-in area, is a great added safety measure to help keep your dog close to you and under control, should they get startled.

7. Desensitize Your Dog to the Sounds of Fireworks

If you suspect your dog will freak out at the sound of fireworks, try playing sounds of fireworks (softly) so your dog is used to hearing them. Try pairing a video of the sounds of fireworks with a treat your dog likes, in a process called counter-conditioning.

8. Talk to Your Vet

If your pet’s anxiety is severe, consider booking an appointment with your vet so you can discuss a medication that could help soothe your pup’s anxiety, and keep your dog calm during fireworks.