Dogs and fireworks
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With fireworks filling our skies for Bonfire Night, Diwali and New Year’s Eve soon after, it can be a stressful time for dogs that don’t like loud noises.
How can you help keep them calm? We’ve got you covered with these four key steps. But, if your dog has a severe reaction to fireworks, you should seek advice from your vet.
Step 1: Knowing if your dog is stressed
There are a number of warning signs to indicate that your dog has fear or anxiety towards fireworks:
- Trembling or shaking
- Restlessness, such as pacing
- Panting or lip smacking
- Attention seeking behaviour
- Whining or barking
- Trying to escape
- Loss of house training
- Unwilling to go outside after hearing fireworks
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
Step 2: Making the noise less of a shock
On the days leading up to Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, or other firework-filled parties taking place nearby, you can get your dog accustomed to the noise in a number of ways:
- Play one of the many YouTube videos that simulate the sounds of fireworks. Start the sounds at a very low level when your dog is relaxed and confident, and slowly increase the volume, pairing this with things your dog enjoys - such as play or affection. If your dog appears uncomfortable at any point, stop increasing the volume.
- You can buy plug in adaptors that release pheromones that can help relax your dog. Plug the adaptor in a few days before the start of firework season to allow the pheromones to spread around the house.
- Get your dog used to the TV or radio being louder than usual by gradually increasing the sounds levels in the lead up to the night.
- Check with neighbours if they are planning a fireworks party. If lots of fireworks are expected nearby you may want to see if a friend or relative would like a four-legged visitor for the night.
Step 3: Making your dog relaxed on the day
Here are some things worth doing leading up to the night:
- Make sure your dog has a good walk before dark, so they are tired and relaxed for the evening.
- Feed your dog earlier than normal so they can relieve themselves before the fireworks start.
- Make sure your dog is wearing their collar and their ID tag is up-to-date, just in case they escape when the fireworks are going off.
- Prepare an area for your dog to go if they becomes scared. If they already have a crate, cover it with a blanket to make a quiet, dark den. You could also use a table or a cupboard under the stairs with an open door.
- If the den is in a different room to the TV, put a radio on to help hide the noise of fireworks.
- Make sure you have everything you need for the evening, so you can stay at home with your dog.
Step 4: Making sure your dog is happy after the fireworks
Some dogs remain a little afraid when the noise is over, so here are some final tips to bear in mind:
- Allow your dog to leave its hiding place as soon it feels safe and ready.
- Act as if nothing has happened. Don’t make a big fuss of the fireworks ending.
- Be prepared that your dog may have an accident overnight as it may have been too scared to relieve itself.
- If your pup is worried about going out into the garden or for a walk the next day, use treats to reward it for going out to rebuild a positive association.
- You may need to keep your dog on a lead when walking for a few days after a firework night.
- Fireworks can last for more than just one night, so be prepared for the unexpected firework going off in the day before and after firework nights.
For more advice and top tips from our experts, look no further than Good Dog!; our pet dog training and welfare subscription.
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