Fear related to noises such as fireworks is very common for our four-legged friends and can create real anxiety which is harmful to their wellbeing.
It is best to acknowledge their fear rather than continuing as normal and ignoring the noise and there are lots of things we can do to help them cope.
One of the best things you can do during fireworks is to stay calm and positive. When you’re worried about your dog, or even frustrated by their behaviour, this can be sometimes make the situation worse. But if you plan ahead, you’ll be ready to help your dog stay calm and settled.
How to help your dog
There are lots of different ways your dog may respond to fireworks. Some may be more obvious signs they are scared; some may be more subtle signs of worry or ways of coping.
So here is an Action Plan to follow from the Dogs Trust.
- Never leave your dog home alone if fireworks are likely. Stay with your pooch as it could panic without you, so stick around or have someone your dog knows well to stay for the evening to help them feel relaxed.
Adjust your schedule
- Plan your walks to make sure your dog is indoors when any fireworks are likely. This might mean changing your routine to walk them earlier in the day, which you should do gradually in the lead up to fireworks. You may also need to gradually change your feeding schedule to give your dog time to eat and go to the toilet before dark.
- Don’t go out after dark. Make sure you’re inside and settled well before any fireworks start and never force your dog outside during fireworks.
- Give your dog any prescribed medication well in advance of fireworks starting.
Play their favourite games (if they want to!)
- Experiment with different enrichment in the run up to fireworks, to find out what treats, games and puzzles your dog enjoys the most. Dogs who are fearful of fireworks may not want to engage in activities at all and instead may seek reassurance or hide.
- Check your house and garden are escape-proof. Dogs can try to run away if they’re scared so check your doors, windows and fences are secure.
Get cosy and comfortable
- Make sure your dog already has a well-established safe space and make it extra snug and get yourself comfy too.
- Make sure they have a safe space. All dogs will benefit from having a safe place to retreat to if they’re worried by fireworks, whether or not they’ve previously shown signs of worry.
- Block out flashes and bangs. Close your windows and curtains and turn the lights on. Put on music or the TV to help disguise the noise.
Let your dog choose.
- Allow your dog the choice to interact with you or to hide in their safe space. But check on them regularly to make sure they are coping. If your dog comes to you for reassurance, then calmly comfort them and give them a fuss. Research shows that ignoring them won’t do anything to help.
- Try and stay calm and relaxed yourself. Your dog will pick up on how you’re feeling, so do your best to relax.