Dogs and Fireworks: How to help them
Fireworks can be a joyful time for us humans. This is not always the case for our dogs. Dogs can find this time of year truly terrifying, after all, dogs and fireworks are not a natural mix.
I wouldn’t describe Jarvis’ fear as extreme (if your dog is severely anxious, make an appointment to see your vet for advice). He 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.
Being prepared can really help your dog. Research the dates and times of any nearby organised firework displays. This way you are able to have things ready and be with them wherever possible. We find that this really helps Jarvis.
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 avoid your dog having the anxiety of needing to go out 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 Jarvis it is the sofa with a blanket of course! Allow your dog to choose where to settle, reacting to their behaviour calmly.
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. 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. If you have children, do not allow them to grab and hold your dog in case they feel trapped under the stress and react.
If your dog must go outside during the bangs, ensure that they are in a secure and enclosed space- dogs can at times bolt under 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- be 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 Jarvis 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.