Dogs and Fireworks: How to help them
Fireworks is a joyful time for us humans. This is not always the case for our dogs. Many animals find this time of year truly terrifying, after all, dogs and fireworks are not a natural mix. If you have a dog who is scared during this time of year, this information may be helpful in reducing their stress. If your dog is severely anxious, please do make an appointment to see your vet for professional advice.
Our dog was worried enough to whimper and pace the room when he heard fireworks or during storms. We have seen huge improvements in his confidence due to using the following strategies.
Research the dates and times of any nearby organised firework displays. This way you are able to have things ready and be with your dog wherever possible. We find that this really helps.
Exercise your dog during the day of the display so that they feel calm and well rested before it is dark and the fireworks begin. This will reduce their anxiety levels and them having to go outside for toilet trips during the bangs. Avoid the temptation to over stimulate however as this will also stress your dog- their usual level of exercise is perfect.
Make a den:
Create a cosy den for your dog, perhaps their bed or in a quiet room? For us it is the sofa with a blanket of course! Allow your dog to choose where to settle, and react to their behaviour calmly with patience.
Close curtains or blinds and use music to block out what is happening outside. Inside noise is a great distraction, whether it is television or music. Make it loud enough to muffle the bangs but not so loud that it is a stress. Try Classic FM’s Pet Sounds which is specially designed to use during the firework season.
Be aware that your dog may behave differently under stress so give them space if they seek it, particularly if you have children. Do not allow them to be unwillingly held or grabbed in case they feel trapped under the stress and react unpredictably.
If your dog must go outside during the bangs, ensure that they are in a secure and enclosed space- dogs have been known to run away due to the stress. Never tell your dog off for showing fear; this will only serve to make them more afraid so show them your usual kindness when they need it.
Cuddle up and get cosy with your dog if they seem worried and want a hug. Remain calm yourself and just act as normally as possible as a reassuring presence. A blanket over your dog can offer the feeling of security. Some people opt for a thunder vest which works on the same principal. Being wrapped in a blanket really helps our whippet and with one of us sitting next to him, nowadays settles down nicely.
Your top tips for dogs and fireworks?
I do hope that you find our successes useful and that they help your dog feel less stressed at this time of year. Please share your experiences and own successes in the comments below. You will find more advice from the brilliant Dogs Trust here.