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  • Kara Dyko

How to Help Your Boxer Handle 4th of July Anxiety

Updated: Jun 4

Hey there, fellow dog lover! The 4th of July is just around the corner, and while the thought of BBQs, parades, and fireworks might get us excited, our Boxer buddies might not share our enthusiasm. Those loud booms and bright flashes can be super scary for our four-legged friends. Don’t worry, though—we've got some tried-and-true tips to help your Boxer stay calm and happy during the festivities. Let’s dive in!

Why are dogs afraid of fireworks?

The most common reason is because most dogs have never had a positive—or even neutral—interaction with the loud noises, sights, smells and feel of a blast.

Loud booms are not something a lot of our pups encounter on a regular basis. Therefore, they become startled at the sudden light, loudness, power and smell of gunpowder in the air. First things first, let’s talk about why our Boxers freak out. Their hearing is way more sensitive than ours, so those fireworks sound like the end of the world to them. You might notice them shaking or trembling, panting, hiding, or even trying to bolt.

Many fireworks can reach sound levels up to 150 decibels. For reference, most human conversation is around 60 decibels, rock concerts are around 115 decibels, and a military jet taking off is around 130 decibels. That's right -- fireworks are lounder than military jets.

So it's no wonder your dog, who isn't expecting the fireworks, gets super freaked out. Not only are they loud, but they're also unpredictable and are interpreted as a threat (which is why so many dogs run away). This is especially true if a dog has never been exposed to these sounds, has had a traumatic experience around fireworks, or are predisposed to being frightened by loud noises.

Figuring out why your dog is scared of fireworks can really help in making a plan before they start. To make things easier and set your dog up for success, we've gathered the best tips from our rescue community.

Prepping for the Big Day

1. Desensitization Training: In the weeks leading up to the 4th of July...

  • Play a video or firework sounds at a low volume. (Or try snapping bubble wrap)

  • When the fireworks start, mark and reward your dog with a treat.

  • Repeat this sequence a few times per session for a few sessions.

  • Gradually turn up the volume over a few weeks.

The goal is to slowly get your dog to associate the sound of fireworks with happy moments (treats + you!) rather than a threat.

2. Wear Your Dog Out: A tired, sleepy dog doesn't have the energy to pace or pant through the house. On the day of scheduled fireworks, take your dog for a long walk or hike or add extra play sessions during the day.

This will prevent your pup from turning pent-up energy into destructive behaviors when anxiety hits.

3. Update ID Tags: Before fireworks season begins, check to make sure your dogs ID tags and/or chip are up to date. You might also consider a GPS tag (we recommend this one) so you can quickly find your dog in the event they do get out.

4. Create a Safe Haven: Use a crate or set up a cozy corner in your home (away from windows), where your Boxer can feel safe. Fill it with their favorite toys, blankets, and maybe one of your old t-shirts. The familiar smells and comfort will help them feel more secure.

5. Pair Your Dog With a Dog Who Isn't Afraid of Fireworks: Modeling, where dogs learn form each other can work in reverse, too. If your nervous dog sees and older or more dominant dog relaxing and remaining calm during the fireworks, it can set a precedent.

6. Practice Jin Shin Jyutsu: Learn the basics of this light touch therapy to calm your dog. The 5 holds for anxiety and trauma can make a BIG difference.

7. Consider a Calming Supplement: It's always a good idea to have a backup plan should your dog get super stressed. These are the products we like best:

During the Fireworks

1. Stay Chill: No, this isn't a caption for a Instagam selfie, it's real advice! Your dog looks to you for cues. If you’re calm, they’re more likely to be calm too. Try not to over-comfort them—just act like it’s no big deal.

2. Keep Them Busy: Distract your pup with fun activities. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, or even a good old-fashioned game of tug can keep their mind off the noise.

3. Mask the Sound: Turn on a white noise machine, a tv, or some calming music. There are even special playlists designed to soothe anxious dogs.

4. Try Calming Shirts: Just as weighted blankets are shown to help humans with anxiety, there are Thundershirts designed to apply gentle pressure (like a hug) to calm your dog.

After the Fireworks

1. Give Lots of Love: Once the fireworks are over, give your Boxer lots of praise and treats for staying calm. Positive reinforcement can help them feel better about the whole ordeal.

2. Get Back Into a Routine: A happy dog is a well-exercised, mentally stimulated, and socialized dog. Keep up with their regular activities and routines.

So there you have it! With a little prep and a lot of love, we can help our Boxer BFF's get through the 4th of July without too much stress. Here’s to a safe and happy holiday for both you and your furry friends! Cheers!

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