HELP! My dog is scared of fireworks.

Bonfire night in November can be a stressful time for dogs. Although the celebration night is 5th of November, pet owners should remember the fireworks are common from Halloween at the end of October right through Chinese New Year in February.

Many dogs find unexpected noise very distressing and scary. Watching your dog being terrified and not knowing what to do is stressful. If you prepare in advance you can help your dog to ease of during the noisy evenings.
It is normal to be afraid of loud, sudden noises. Sounds trigger animals’ nervous system, and they become anxious. Running away and hiding is a survival instinct.
Fireworks are different than other natural loud noises (like thunder) because they are closer to the ground, more vibrant and accompanied by sudden bangs, flashes and burning smells. Dogs experience the world through their senses: nose, eyes and ears.
Bonfire night or New Years Eve is simply overwhelming for most dogs.

 

Here are our tips on how to prepare your dog for the stressful evening, keep him calm and make it easier for both of you.

 

PREPARATION

While there are things you can do to calm your dog during fireworks, getting your dog used to loud sounds and building their confidence is long-term solution.

Playing different fireworks sound on YouTube while feeding your dog or during a play session will teach him to associate this noise with something positive, instead of something scary. Introduce the noises slowly and gradually.

Confidence games are another great way to create optimistic dog around noises.
Noise Box is our favorite game: get a low cardboard box from a supermarket, fill it with empty cans, plastic bottles, foil or other safe objects that will create noise. Scatter your dog’s dinner in the box and let him find the tasty pieces of food while objects are moving and making noise.

Tasty food is incredible resource because it can help to change dog’s emotional state. Before the fireworks start, cook up an irresistible food such as chicken breast, special meat, salmon, liver cake, cookies – something your dog love! Feed calmly a piece at a time during fireworks.

If you know your pet hates loud, high pitched or sudden noises, it’s likely they will struggle to cope with the firework season. You can try ThunderShirt to calm your dog, remember that you must introduce any such tool at the right time, pair the ThunderShirt with a calm state.

 

KEEPING YOUR DOG CALM DURING FIREWORKS

You can minimize the anxiety and help your dog to calm down by following these simple advises:

1.       Walk your dog earlier in the day before fireworks start. Keep your dog on a lead just in case.

2.       Keep your dog indoors during noisy events.

3.       Make sure microchip information are up to date. In the worst-case scenario, any dog that does get out or run away from home while fireworks are going off, can be reunited with its owner much more easily if it has been micro-chipped. Microchipping your dog is now a legal requirement, as of April 2016.

4.       Close all windows and doors to reduce the noise.

5.       Close the curtains to black out any flashing lights from outside.

6.       Create safe space, somewhere your dog likes to relax. Dogs may also be most comfortable curled up in their usual spot with you rather than a designated ‘safe place’, so allow them access to all safe areas of the house.

7.       Turn on radio/TV to mask the sound.

8.       Provide enrichment, something that will keep your dog occupied and will help him to relax – stuffed kong, snuffle mat, tasty long-lasting chew

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9.       Use calming and natural essential oils or plug in diffuser – make sure the scent is dog safe. We recommend Pet Remedy products.

10.   Do not leave your dog alone. If your dog can see the fireworks have no effect on you, this might help him to relax.

11.   Make sure your home and garden are escape-proof. If possible make sure your dog doesn’t have access to doors that lead outside.

12.   Dogs are likely to drink more when they are worried, make sure they have easy access to a full water bowl.

13.   Let your worried dog pace around, whine and hide in a corner if he wants to. Once they have found a safe space try not to disturb them.

14. Don’t confine your dog to one room or a cage as they may hurt themselves trying to get out

15. If your dog is still extremely stressed by fireworks after following our advice, you may want to consult your vet and get appropriate medication to help reduce your dog’s anxiety.

16.  Stress might cause toilet incidents – never punish your dog. Reprimanding them won’t help and will also make your dog more stressed.

 

It’s never a good idea to take your dog to a fireworks display, and indoor fireworks aren’t dog-friendly either. Even if they don’t whimper at the noise, it doesn’t mean they are happy. Panting and yawning are both signs that indicate your dog is stressed.

Justyna Marszalek