How to Desensitize Your Pet to Fireworks Before July Fourth

A safe Fourth of July starts with preparation. For some, this may start with introducing your dog or cat to the noises of that day. This may include playing noises on your phone of fireworks, firecrackers, children screaming, the doorbell ringing, or cars honking, and associating those noises with positive reinforcement over time.

This is also a time to prepare your dog or cat for travel. Will they be spending extended time in a travel carrier? Are they used to the movements of your car? Slowly expose your pet to the surroundings and feelings of travel, whether that is time spent in their carrier or on short car rides.

2-Week Desensitization Plan

The more time you have to prep your pet, the better. Here is an example of a 2-week plan ahead of July 4th.

  • Week 1:
    Start by playing a recording of fireworks at a very low volume, while your pet is in the room.
  • Gradually increase the volume over several days, always ensuring that your pet is comfortable and not showing signs of fear or stress.
  • Pair the sound of the fireworks with positive experiences for your pet, such as playing with their favorite toy or giving them a treat.
  • Week 2:
    Continue playing the fireworks sounds at an increased volume, gradually getting closer to the level of noise that your pet may experience on July 4th.
  • Begin to introduce visual cues, such as videos of fireworks, while still playing the sounds at a low volume.
  • Gradually increase the volume and intensity of the fireworks sounds over several days, always ensuring that your pet is comfortable and not showing signs of fear.
  • Pair the visual and auditory cues with positive experiences, and start to add in CBD.

Travel Prep

If your pets will be traveling, follow a similar plan to the one outlined above, but slowly have your pet spend time around and in their carrier for the first week. Reward your pet with a treat for staying calmly in their carrier. During the second week, start to go on short car rides around your neighborhood or area with your pet in the carrier. Reward your pet regularly while in the car.

Starting the two weeks before your trip, begin administering CBD and expose your pet to the sounds of travel as well. By the time your trip comes, your pet should be well-adjusted to travel and the CBD will be most effective.

Remember: Sometimes it can be better to leave your pet at home. As much as our pets are part of the family and we want to them to enjoy holidays with us, some pets may be happier staying home during big trips or fireworks shows.

Download our full pet owner’s guide to the Fourth of July here.