The RSPCA have reported that around 60% of dogs show at least some signs of distress when they hear fireworks. Let’s face it unexpected loud noises that we don’t have a reason for are pretty scary for us so it’s only reasonable to expect that out furry family members may worry about them too. We all want to do what is best for our dogs to have a magical life with us so thinking about fireworks in advance is a sensible idea.
What to do in the months before firework season:
To give your dog the best chance of sleeping through all the bangs we can work to build their confidence around loud noises. This can be done with a new puppy or with an older dog. Find a recording of the sound of fireworks that you can play from your phone or tablet. Whilst your dog is out of the room set up an area with toys and treats that they can explore and enjoy whilst the firework sounds play at a very low volume. Let your dog into the room and if they react to the noises stop and lower the volume. If they are comfortable let them continue to enjoy their treats whilst the sound play. Over time you can increase the volume of the sounds until they are very loud just like the real thing. Remember to watch your dogs body language to make sure they are relaxed at all times. You can also join our free online community to check out some other top tips for noise sensitive dogs
What to do in the weeks before fireworks:
If you know your dog is worried by fireworks then now is the time to explore what supplements you can give to take the edge off their anxiety. Most supplements work best when given for a period of time before the scary event so they have time to build up. We like Dorwest Herbs Skullcap and Valerian but there are several other options available such as Zylkene and Adaptil as well. You may wish to consider trying out a thundershirt or other anxiety wrap or introduce noise cancelling mutt muffs carefully and slowly to your dog so they get used to wearing them.
What to do in the days before fireworks:
Hopefully you have had the chance to get your dog used to the sound of fireworks but maybe you have just got a new dog and you aren’t sure how they will react. Being prepared is key and there are lots of things you can do in advance to get ready for the big day. Make sure your dog has a cosy den where they can go – something like a crate with blankets over the top can muffle the sounds of fireworks. Prepare some long lasting treats such as frozen kongs in advance or make sure that you have your dogs favourite chews to hand so that they can enjoy them whilst the fireworks go off. Plan where in the house is the least noisy. Speak to your neighbours and check if any of them are planning to have their own display. Make a note of any organised public displays near your house. If you know when the fireworks are likely to start you can have the long lasting treats ready to use.
What to do on the day the fireworks start:
Make sure you walk your dog well before dark. You may even want to consider keeping your dog on lead if you usually let them off lead as sometimes people do let off fireworks before it gets dark; if your dog is on lead they can’t panic and bolt. Stay in with your dog, try to avoid going out into your garden whilst fireworks are going off in case they scare your dog. Feed your dog before dark so they can eat their meal in peace. Put your TV or radio on the mask the sounds from outside and have your curtains closed to muffle the sound and hide the flashing lights. If your dog does get worried please do comfort and reassure them; they trust you and ignoring their fear may damage their trust in you; giving reassurance does not make their fear worse despite what some people may mistakenly tell you.
What to do if your dog is very fearful:
If you already know that your dog is going to be having a difficult time on Bonfire Night, Diwali or New Years Eve then now is the time to act. Visit your vet with your dog to discuss options for medication to give them. Modern medicines from the vet are effective and rather than just sedating your dog they can now act to reduce fear. It is also worth booking a consult with Nosey Barker or a behaviourist near to where you live to come up with a plan help your dog for the future; remember that noise sensitivities often get worse over time.