Dog parents: Here's how to calm down your dog during fireworks.

Fireworks are colorful, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. But for most dogs, they're absolutely terrifying.

Think about it — loud noises and bright lights occurring without warning and often while their human best friends in the entire world leave them home alone? It's no wonder our four-legged friends get major anxiety.

Before you celebrate, here are nine ways to keep your pet safe and minimize noise anxiety.


Left: Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Right: Photo by Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images.

1. Going to a fireworks show? Maybe don't bring your doggo.

Yes, your dog loves hamburgers and grassy fields, but the rest of the night is dark, unfamiliar, and filled with strangers. And that's before the fireworks start. Don't let your human guilt get in the way of their canine comfort.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for 1 Hotels.

2. If you know your dog has noise anxiety, do them a solid and stay home.

When your dog is scared, they will look to you not only for comfort but to know how to react or behave. If you're not there, they'll have one more thing to worry about. Consider staying in or asking a trusted friend or dog-sitter to come by.

3. Before the fireworks, take your dog on a nice long walk.

A walk before sundown may be the only time your pet is willing to go outside all night. Plus a nice stroll will tucker them out, leaving little energy to put toward their anxiety.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

4. When it comes to food and water: feed and fill.

Nervous dogs may avoid eating, so make sure they get a good meal earlier in the day. However, nervous dogs tend to be on the thirsty side, so keep the water bowl filled and at the ready.

5. Create a safe space for your special furry snowflake.

Find an interior room or space without windows to ride out the fireworks show. Make sure they have food and water, their favorite blankets, and if they're crate or kennel trained, bring that too. If you can't get away from the noise, try playing soft music or a white noise machine.

6. Give your dog a snug hug ... with fabric.

Like swaddling does for infants, snug shirts or vests apply consistent comforting pressure around your dog's belly and torso, which can ease anxiety. Buy these products at the pet store or make your own out of a bandage or scarf. (See these adorable illustrations and instructions from Lili Chin.)

7. Distraction is a another great tool to — SQUIRREL!

Since your dogs can't sit and mindlessly refresh Twitter, a new bone, puzzle toy, or favorite game might be just what they need to get through a stressful night.

GIF via "Up."

8. Tags: You're it.

Even dogs who aren't prone to running away could get scared enough to bolt during fireworks. Make sure your dog is wearing its collar and tags and that your doors and yard are secure.

9. Be the friend you'd want to have when you're scared.

Offer kind vibes, head pats, peanut butter, lots of snuggles, and no pressure to come out from under the bed.

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty images.

Fireworks only happen a handful of times each year. With a little preparation, you can get through them together.

Be supportive, loving, and generous with your affection.  

Basically, be like your dog.

Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less