With the beautiful arrival of autumn, comes the dreaded fireworks night for our dogs. It is likely that at some point during a dog’s life, they will experience fireworks for the first time, and just like you and me, it can be a shock. Dogs have exceptionally sensitive hearing, so what’s a loud bang for you, will be an even louder bang for them.
If you have a dog who doesn’t cope well on fireworks night, then do not fear! We have pulled together some tips for you to help your pooch feel as safe and calm as possible on the night.
Top Tips for Calming a Scared Dog During Fireworks
- Walk before dusk – You can’t always predict when there will be fireworks, so throughout the season, make a habit of taking your dog for a big walk before dusk to help them run off their energy, and to avoid any fireworks.
- Feed them early – If your dog is anxious, he may lose his appetite. Make sure you feed your pooch well in advance so when they get scared, at least you know they have a full belly.
- Fill the water bowl – Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available. Scared dogs tend to pant more, so they may want to drink more water than usual.
Making Their Home Feel Safe
- Stay at home with them – If you know your dog fears fireworks, or it is the first time they will experience them with you, it is a small price to pay staying home with them to make sure they are calm and happy. You can always go next year, or take it in turns. NEVER take them with you.
- Put on the television or radio – Dogs will pick up when you are acting differently, so keeping the usual sounds in the home will help keep your dog calm, whilst muffling out any sounds of fireworks or excited crowds walking past your home.
- Close the curtains – As well as the obvious loud sounds that come with fireworks, the unusual explosions of light can seem strange and scary for your pooch too, so closing the curtains can remove this visual stimulation for them. If you still fancy watching them, you can always make a safe room, or part of the home for them instead.
- Build a den – If your dog has a crate, make it extra cosy by putting a blanket over it and filling it with their toys so they can hideaway somewhere safe and familiar if they want to. If you don’t have a crate, maybe try putting their bed under a table. Avoid trying to build a precarious den - if this was to fall on your pooch during the fireworks, they would become even more afraid!
- Comfort your pooch – If your dog comes to you for reassurance or comfort, make sure you give it to them. The worst thing you can do is make them feel like you are ignoring them if they are scared. However, avoid coaxing them out if they do decide to hideaway, or forcing a cuddle on them, as this could cause them more stress.
- Distract them – To help avoid an increase in anxiety, try giving your dog a treat to keep them busy throughout the evening. Fill a treat toy full of delicious treats, or pick up his favourite chewy treat – a pig’s ear perhaps?
Avoiding a Doggie Dash for It
- Going in the garden – When anxious, dogs can be a bit scattier than usual. You wouldn’t want to find out your garden wasn’t as secure as you thought on fireworks night now would you! Take precautions and go outside with your dog if they need the loo, and maybe even put them on a lead just in case.
- Knock knock – If someone comes to the door, or you need to go outside, make sure your dog is shut away safely elsewhere so they can’t make a sneaky escape.
- Update their microchip – Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date, just in case they do manage to make a dash for it. Keep their collar and id tag on too, so people can contact you quicker if they find your pooch cowering in the woods.
Tips for a Very Anxious Dog
- Anxiety wraps – If you have tried all the above before and you are still concerned your pooch will be very scared, then why not try a dog anxiety jacket or wrap? Just like humans, applying gentle pressure (like a hug from your mum for example), can help relieve tension. If you don’t have time to pick one up, you could try making your own?
- Sound therapy for dogs – with a little more forward planning you could even try sound therapy. This usually come in the form of CDs, and there are many different kinds available on the market. However, they usually advise you to start introducing your dog to it well in advance of fireworks night.
We hope you found this useful, and that you all enjoy fireworks night – even your furry little companion. For further reading, why not visit the Kennel Club site, and for other pets you may have, visit the RSPCA site.