While Independence Day is a time to celebrate, your dog may not be as excited. Loud, unpredictable noises from fireworks and patriotic crowds can be scary for your pet. Your dogs keen sense of hearing, nine times more acute than human hearing, may have him cowering behind the couch or covering his eyes. However, your dog is not alone, fear of fireworks and loud noises is a fairly common phobia for many dogs. Even the most confident dog can become spooked by fireworks causing him to panic, bark, run away wagging their tail between their legs or scurrying under the bed. Here are a few tips on  easing your anxious dog’s fear of fireworks.

1. Don’t change your behavior. Many people feel compelled to baby their dogs when the dog is showing signs of fear. We pet them more than usual, cuddle them, and talk to them in soft voices. Rather than easing a dog’s fears, however, this often reinforces the dog’s fearful behaviors.

2. Try not to react to the fireworks yourself. If you jump or tense up when you hear fireworks because you are anticipating your dog’s fear, you may make his fear worse. Your body language can tell a dog that there is a reason to be afraid.

3. Drown out the sound of the fireworks. Try to turn up the radio or television and keep your windows closed during the fireworks. If the weather permits, a fan or air conditioner (if your dog isn’t afraid of those sounds) can help, too.

4. Don’t push your dog past his comfort zone. Allow him to hide if he feels more comfortable in his crate or under a bed. Don’t pull him out or try to force him closer to the fireworks in an attempt to get him used to the sounds. This may result in an increase in fear, and a frightened dog may become aggressive if pushed past his comfort level.

5. Prescribe sedative or anxiety relief pill. For dogs with severe fear of fireworks a vet may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication or sedative to keep your dog calm and collective during Fourth of July festivities.

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