Searches for "dog anxiety" peak on Independence Day and it's getting worse. Here are the most stressed states and tips on relaxing your dog
We love Independence Day, but all the fun and fireworks can cause dogs anxiety. With celebrations just days away, Petted.com analyzed Google search data to reveal just how stressful the 4th of July can be on man’s best friend and which states are the most anxious - and we also got some expert advice on how to relax your dog.
The numbers around Independence Day dog anxiety
Although dogs are fun-loving, bouncy and energetic, they are also very sensitive. Hearing loud noises like fireworks can be incredibly stressful for them. Petted.com has discovered that searches for "dog anxiety" peak every year around the 4th of July. We analyzed the searches and found some worrying stats.
• Every year, Independence Day causes on average a 162% increase in Google searches for “dog anxiety”
• Google searches for “dog anxiety” have increased at their 4th July peak by 36% since 2018
• Petted.com predicts a 2022 all-time high for “dog anxiety” from concerned Pet Parents
• Montana dogs are America’s most stressed over the 4th of July
• Louisiana dogs are America’s least stressed over the 4th of July
How to spot dog anxiety
With this in mind, we asked Keira Wingader, a pet behavior expert in Chicago, to explain the signs to look out for if you think your pup could be stressed – and how to help them relax.
1. Excessive panting
“Panting is a huge indicator of whether your pup is feeling stressed,” says Wingader. “It’s a common fear response and something to look out for, especially during a firework display. The panting is often accompanied by other stress responses, such as shaking and whining. If this occurs, it’s best to try and remove your dog from the stressful situation as quickly as possible.”
“Licking is another common stress response that is a little more subtle. You may just think that your pup is giving themselves a good wash, when actually they are uncomfortable. In more serious cases of stress, excessive licking can cause hair to fall out and sore patches of skin.”
“Although it can be frustrating when dogs use their voices excessively, we should still stop and think about why they are being loud,” says Wingader. “Sometimes they just love a good bark, or they’ve spotted the neighbors’ can in the garden, but other times it can be due to stress. They may be trying to get your attention, alerting you that they’re feeling unsafe. Alternatively, it could be their way of calming themselves down – kind of like a pep talk.”
“The kind of loud noises we have on the 4th of July can make dogs feel very unsettled. This may cause them to become restless and unable to get comfortable. It’s a form of stress relief as they are trying to shake off all their anxieties.”
“Much like humans, dogs shake when they are feeling nervous or apprehensive,” says Wingader. “This is a very common fear response to loud noises, such as fireworks. They may react like this because they feel their space is being invaded by something they can’t explain, causing them to tremble.”
How to help reduce dog anxiety this 4th of July
So now we know what to look out for, how can we calm our furry friends down? All dogs and breeds are different, so will dealing with stress in different ways, but here are a few things that Wingader suggests trying during fireworks displays.
1. Ensure they are in a safe space
This one may seem simple, says Wingader, but it’s one of the most effective. “If fireworks are stressing your pup out, then make sure the doors and windows are closed to keep it as quiet as possible. This is also beneficial to avoid your dog running outside and scaring themselves further. Maybe set up a little corner that’s sheltered for them to curl up in – it really makes a difference.”
2. Prepare them for fireworks
You may have a young pup that hasn’t yet experienced their first Independence Day celebrations. So, if you’re worried about them getting stressed, you could always do a few things to prepare them. “Try playing firework sounds on the TV – maybe with a video of them too – so they begin to get used to the noise,” advises Wingader. “This way, it won’t be such a shock when they hear the loud bangs for the first time.”
3. Use distraction techniques
“We all know dogs love a good treat or chew toy to keep them busy. This type of distraction might be useful when fireworks are going off. If they have something else to focus on, then they are more likely to be less stressed.”
4. Lots of reassurance
“Whilst there are some dogs that need their own space during times of stress, others may want the opposite. Sometimes a big cuddle on the sofa or under a blanket can provide them with the security they need. Dogs are our big fluffy kids, so treating them with lots of love and affection is usually a winner.”
5. Play music
“Music is an incredible resource that can help to chill out dogs in times of stress,” says Wingader. “Some dogs love to listen to anything from classical to a bit of pop to keep their minds distracted. By putting on some music, you are directing their attention to noises inside the house rather than outside, which can help to calm them down.”
Record levels of Independence Day dog anxiety?
Hans Seeberg, Head of Brand at Petted.com, believes that the upward trend of dog anxiety around the 4th of July is set to continue.
He said: “Independence Day is deservedly one of this great nation’s favorite holidays, but the distress to our four-legged friends is undeniable. That’s why we want to let as many pet parents as possible know what to look out for this 4th of July, and also how they can try to alleviate any stress and anxiety your dog might feel about fireworks.
"We’re predicting this Independence Day to be a record for the number of people looking up how to help their dog cope with anxiety, so if we know what to look for and how to help our dogs, there’s no reason the 4th of July can’t be enjoyed by everyone, including our pets.”
America’s most anxious dogs over the 4th of July - state by state
Petted.com delved into historical Google trends data to find out exactly where in America our four-legged friends are the most and least anxious over the last four years.
|State||2018||2019||2020||2021||Anxiety Score||Anxiety Rank|
|District of Columbia||24||17||26||67||42|
Data sourced via Google Trends for 7/1 thru 7/10 for each year. Values are calculated on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the most popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location, a value of 50 indicates a location which is half as popular. A value of 0 indicates a location where there was not enough data for this term. The values were added together to give a total score, the higher the value indicating the most anxious dogs.