How to help your dog cope with fireworks
Fireworks, a dog’s worst nightmare?
This time of year brings many cold nights and celebrations that involve loud noises and bright lights. For many dogs it can be a stressful season with all the unexpected sounds from fireworks late into the evening. It can be hard seeing your furry friend stressed out and not knowing how to help them. There are some steps you can take to keep them calm and as stress free as possible so you can both enjoy firework season.
Preparing your dog for fireworks
The best thing for your dog is to try to desensitise them to sudden loud noises gradually over time. You can play firework videos on the internet to help your pet become accustomed to fireworks. Create positive associations with tasty treats when playing firework sounds. Although this can be a long, slow process, it can make your dog happier and more relaxed during the firework season. Some dogs that are trained to listen for loud noises get excited when they hear fireworks!
Keeping your dog active and stimulated during the day, such as on a long walk, can help reduce anxiety later in the evening when fireworks may be going on. Don’t walk your dog after dark, keep them safely inside. Make sure that your dog has had the chance to toilet before the fireworks start so that they don’t ask to go our when the fireworks are going off.
It is important to create a safe space in your home that your dog can retreat to. This could be a dog bed in a quiet area, a crate with some soft blankets, or even on the sofa with you. Putting clothes that smell like you in their safe space can also help to calm them, as well as their favourite toy or a puzzle feeder such as a kong or a slow feeder mat. Puzzle toys and long-lasting chews are a great way to keep their mind occupied and distracted from the fireworks outside. Don’t force them to be anywhere they don’t want to be.
Remaining positive and happy when there are fireworks can reassure your dog that there is nothing to fear. Try to stay in your normal routine, but do not walk your dog outside when there are fireworks still going off. Cuddling up in front of your TV with your pooch can help calm and reassure them, and the noise from the TV will also mask the sounds of the fireworks outside, whilst keeping the curtains closed will block the light from the fireworks.
Allowing your dog their normal space in the house and not confining them to one room will reduce stress and reassure them they are not stuck in a scary situation.
Check for escape routes
Try to make your home and garden as escape proof as possible. We never want to think about the possibility of our dog escaping, especially when they are scared, but is always good to be prepared for the worst. Ensuring your microchip details are up to date allows easier tracking of owners, so if your dog escapes, there is more of a chance he will be returned.
Remedies and your Vet
There are various remedies that you can try for your pet if they are very stressed, e.g. a thunder shirt, scullcap & valerian tablets or compound or a happy hoodie. It will depend on what works for your dog, what suits one will not work for another. Consulting your vet is always a great step to take as they can find ways to help your dog cope with the stresses of the season.
We all want our dogs to live a happy and stress-free life as possible, preparing well for the firework season will help you and your dog have a more enjoyable and relaxed time together.