Firework season is almost upon us and it is soon to be 5th November - Bonfire Night. Whilst we all enjoy a good firework display, our dogs can struggle with the sporadic and long period of loud banging noises.
Many owners will be starting to worry about the anxiety that fireworks may cause their pets. Noise sensitivity with fireworks can range from such mild anxiety that is almost unnoticeable, to sheer panic and distress.
Why Dogs Are Scared of Fireworks
Dogs, and cats, feel scared as they are alarmed by the loud noises of the fireworks but don't understand that fireworks cannot harm them.
Due to their sensitive hearing, which is much better than ours, sounds will seem louder to them and more confusing than they do to you. Fireworks seem to come out of nowhere and every bang will be a shock, perhaps making your dog feel out of control, out of routine and threatened.
Some pets are not phased by loud noises such as fireworks (which is great!), but for those that struggle, here are some tips to help them:
While we can’t stop the fireworks from going off, we can prepare our pets to cope with them.
Noise desensitisation is simple but effective. You can find many firework soundtracks on YouTube or Spotify; we’ve started playing them quietly for our dog Carmen. Starting quiet, slowly increasing the volume over the next week, giving them something distracting to focus on if they are the little worried (like a tasty chew) - and rewarding them when they don't react - will get them fully prepared to tackle firework season like a pro.
Dogs feel safer when they have a hiding space. You can make your dog a ‘safe haven’ or a ‘dog den’, which can have items such as their favourite toys, blankets or stimulating treat such as a Kong.
If your dog already has a hiding place then this space can be used, making it as snug and secure for your dog as possible by adding blankets or bedding.
Covering a crate or building a hiding place with comfy blankets and bedding can help them feel cosy and comfortable. Dogs like to be covered so having a blanket or sheet over this area to make it den-like can help them.
If you are making your ‘dog den’ from scratch, try to do this a few weeks in advance so that your dog knows it is a safe place when fireworks start.
Some other helpful tips to help your dog feel safe and secure throughout the fireworks season:
Stay calm and don’t react to the fireworks yourself
When firework night rolls around, ensure all windows and doors are shut, and close the curtains
Turn on the TV or play music to muffle the sound of the fireworks and relax your pet
Consider distracting your dog from the fireworks by giving them a chew, toy or playing a game with them, and spend lots of time giving them attention to keep them as calm as possible
Microchip: check that your dog’s microchip is up to date with the correct details, dogs can run when they get spooked and get lost. Make sure there is no escape route and that your garden is secure with doors and windows closed
Do not punish your dog for displaying unwanted behaviour as a result of fireworks going off - this will only make them more distressed.
Just being in the same room as your pooch giving them support, as well as using the tips above should keep you both happy when the fireworks begin.
If the above tips do not work and your dog shows severe anxiety, always consult your veterinarian for further help and advice.