With all the excitement of fireworks and the celebrations they bring – whether you’re celebrating New Year’s, Independence Day in the US or Bonfire Night in the UK or something else –the general public often overlooks the effect the noise has on our dogs.
Fireworks are frightening, unpredictable and loud and can often feel threatening to our canines.
If your dog is afraid of fireworks, these days of celebration can quickly become filled with anxiety and dread for you and your animals.
In this guide, we look at the best ways you can help ease your dogs’ fears and promote calm behaviour.
This guide is aimed at our dog breeding community; however, it is also relevant for new puppy families, so feel free to share this with any dog owner you know will find it useful.
Get your dogs ready for the next firework night.
Create a safe space for your dog.
It’s important that a safe and secure place is created for your dog(s) before the night of the fireworks so it feels familiar and comfortable.
You know your dogs best, so surround them with things they can get comfort from, such as a favourite blanket or toy.
Make sure you consider where the safe is in your home, for example, away from windows and doors.
Researchers at the Purina Institute say:
“If your dog is crate trained, cover their crate with a blanket to help absorb the sound and leave the door open so your dog does not feel trapped. If your dog is not comfortable in a crate, try creating a safe place elsewhere, preferably in a room in the center of the home with no windows (otherwise close the blinds or curtains of any windows so your dog cannot see outside). Bringing your dog’s bed and blankets into the room can help your dog feel more comfortable.”
Desensitise your dog to fireworks.
Socialisation is something that every responsible breeder should be familiar with.
And desensitising your pups to loud noises will help them live calm and happy lives as they grow up.
According to Dogs Trust, dogs that are safely and gradually exposed to loud noises during their essential socialisation period of three to 16 weeks can often cope more with frightening sounds like fireworks.
Dogs Trust even have a free sound therapy and firework training resource that is filled with tips and sounds to play to your dogs to help them overcome their fears.
Sound therapy should always be done when your dog is already calm and not when they’re frightened or overly excited in any way.
Keep your dog calm during fireworks.
The worst thing for humans to do is to react badly to fireworks in front of their dogs. Dogs are highly perceptive and may pick up on your fear and start to panic.
If your dog can see fireworks have no effect on you, it may help decrease their anxiety.
Make sure your safe space is accessible.
Ensure your dog can access its safe space, and no safety gates or doors are blocking them from getting in or out.
If you are using a crate, make sure it stays open, as locking your dog inside the crate may cause even more panic.
Keep your dogs inside and away from the celebrations.
It may sound obvious, but keep your dog inside during the fireworks. Keep your doors and windows shut, as some dogs may try to escape if they get anxious.
Try to be prepared and take your dog for a long walk during the day before the fireworks begin so they’re not couped up for a long period of time.
Mask noise with the TV or music.
Help distract your dog from the noise outside with familiar sounds like music or TV. A sudden bang of a firework may have less impact if there’s noise going on in the home.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home recommends classical music to help calm dogs or music with a h4 bass to mask bangs.
Distract your dogs with familiar items.
Surrounding your dog with its favourite toys and treats is a great distraction. Long-lasting chew sticks will keep your dog occupied during the celebrations.
As always, speak to your vet.
As always, a good place to start is speaking with your vet or a dog behavioural specialist, as they will be able to recommend lots of ways to keep your dog calm and share the experiences of other owners and breeders.