How Did Your Dogs Handle the July 4th Fireworks?


My husband, who is not at all what I would call a dog person, nevertheless makes some uncannily good observations about dog behavior sometimes. He’s the one who, about a year ago, stated that he thinks Woody is going to be our best chance at having a non-neurotic dog. And darned if he’s not right.

Otto, who will be 10 in November, is, by and large, a content and confident dog, but he does have fears and concerns about certain things, including floors that he suspects might be slippery. He lights up at the sight of a tennis racket, because that means a game of fetching tennis balls, but runs from the room if you pick up a fly swatter, because fly-swatting  . . . well, I don’t know why fly-swatting is so terrifying. He could not care less about gunshots; several of our favorite places to hike are within easy earshot (pun not intended) of a shooting range, but fireworks? Well, every single year, he gets more and more reactive to the sound of fireworks.

This year, fireworks were being set off all around town starting days before Independence Day. Every time we could hear one pop off close by, Otto would come to me and park himself by my chair, shaking and panting. For the actual holiday, I sent him to my sister’s house; she lives out of town, where fireworks are strictly illegal due to the fire hazard. He spent a very restful afternoon and night there, thank goodness.

My town actually welcomes fireworks – it’s a much safer place for them than anywhere in the outskirts, where any spark poses a huge threat of wildfire in the tinder-dry grass, tall from last spring’s record rainfall.  People from outlying areas all around us come to town to light their fireworks. Every parking lot in town, I swear, was sparkling and crackling all afternoon and well past midnight, when I finally fell asleep.

Woody could not care less. Not about the booming ones, the crackly ones, nor the ones that sound like a missile is shrieking down toward our house. He slept through them all. Ah, that’s nice.

How did your dogs do? I’m particularly interested to hear how many of you tried the new medication Sileo on your dogs this year, and how it worked – particularly because I think I’m going to be trying it on Otto soon enough. 



  1. I have a two year old Beagle/Lab mix who was terrified last year, enough to crawl under the bed, a tight fit for a 30 pound pup! This year, while she was not relaxed, she was much better. I had bought a “Happy Hoodie” headband, and while she wasn’t excited to wear it, she did, and it seemed to help. She spent most of the evening in my husband’s man cave. We left the TV on with the volume turned up, and I sat with her, giving her small pieces of her favorite treat (Nudges Chicken Pot Pie). After a bit, she was able to settle down pretty well in her usual spot in that room. She refused to go outside, however, until almost midnight, when the humans finally quit!

  2. Seamus, a sheltie, jumped in my lap at the first crack. (I wouldn’t mind, but I had shorts on) Then my husband took all of them in his man cave, turned the AC on and the TV up. The other two were not bothered by the noises, although they were a bit nervous, but Seamus was shaking like a leaf. I have a Neuro calming formula. I will use it tonight. It seems to help a little.

  3. We had company on the deck to watch the fireworks. Maggie Mae (standard poodle) decided it was past her bedtime and went to her bed. She would come back out every 10 minutes to see if they left yet. She Finally gave up and went sleep.

  4. I have found early conditioning to be a Godsend! On their first 4th, we take any new puppy (securely leashed, of course!) to our front yard, sit on a blanket with a plentiful supply of treats, and watch the neighborhood fireworks with plenty of enthusiastic “Look, Puppy! “How pretty!” “Ooo!! Good dog!” accompanied by reassuring hugs, plentiful yummy treats and praise. Usually by the 3rd or 4th round of praise and treats, they begin to focus more on the treats and praise and away from the squeals, pops, bangs and flashes. This method has also worked well with several adult rescues we have adopted in the past. Letting them see the noise and lights seems to show them that, rather than an unseen monster to hide from, all that noise means is extra attention and yummy treats. Conditioning, conditioning,conditioning…

    This year, we suffered an influx of illegal fireworks, which made our neighborhood sound like a war zone for several weeks leading up to the 4th. My current “puppies” (now 7 years old) took no more notice than an occasional head raised, an “Oh. It’s just this again,,.”attitude, then back to sleep. The dogs took it better than the humans who had to keep getting up to shut off the car alarms triggered by ground-shaking blasts!

  5. My poor dog had a terrible time, couldn’t eat, was scared to death to relieve herself, not one of the recommended ways to help a terriefed pet helped. Fireworks started well before the 4th and on the 4th starting at 9am until 1am it was constant and solid fireworks in this horrible neighborhood. Then again at 8:45am this morning (July5th) it started. We are taking extreme measures, we are moving, out of this state.

  6. My Roxy is a ten-year old Chow Chow/Golden mix. I adopted her two years ago. She is terrified of fireworks. I’ve spent a lot of money on various remedies for her: a Thundershirt, desensitization cds that play sounds of fireworks (she slept through them), an Adaptil collar and spray, Bach Rescue Remedy, and various Rx meds prescribed by my vet such as Ace combined with Trazadone and Diazepam, you name it I’ve tried it to relieve her suffering. The drugs would make her groggy but she would still pace, pant, drool and whimper. Then I read in The Whole Dog Journal e-mail newsletter just a few days ago about Sileo. I did some research. The only complaints I could find were its expense. I didn’t care, Roxy needed help. (It turned out that for my 52 pound dog, it was $26 for three doses. The Thundershirt cost a lot more.) I asked my vet to prescribe Sileo. It worked. And it worked well.

    I gave her the first dose when the fireworks started at 7 p.m. It took about 45 minutes before she stopped pacing, panting and drooling, was quiet but remained alert and stayed close to me whenever I got up to go to another room. The first dose worked for about two hours, then she started to get more agitated so I gave her a second dose. She quieted but was still alert and wagged her tail when I said just before bedtime my usual, “Want to go out?” but of course, she would not go out, no way. So we went to bed. The fireworks went on until about 1 a.m., and I stayed awake to monitor her, but she slept quietly through it all. This morning she woke up her usual good-natured, happy self, ate her morning meal and played outside. It was important for me not only to find relief for this dog but also relief for me, because in her fear she would try to climb on me. She hurt me once trying to do that. So, for Roxy and me, this drug is close to a miracle. I will use it again on New Year’s Eve.

    However, there are some problems with the way the manufacturer has designed the dispensing device for the drug. It requires following a whole page of instructions exactly or you could overdose your dog. I think it would be better if the manufacturer sold individual doses calculated to the weight of each dog rather than one syringe per Rx with several doses.