Dogs and fireworks
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 pup is relaxed and confident, and slowly increase the volume.
- You can buy plug in adaptors that release pheromones that can help relax your pup. Plug the adaptor in a few days before the start of firework season to allow the pheromones to spread around the house.
- Get your puppy 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 pup earlier than normal so they can relieve themselves before the fireworks start.
- Make sure your pup 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 it 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 pup 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 puppy 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.