Dogs and Fireworks Top 10 Tips
Many dogs can be scared of fireworks. The loud noises and flashing lights of fireworks can be very frightening for your dog, but there are things you can do to minimise your dog's stress levels during the ever-extending fireworks season. Here are our top tips for managing dogs and fireworks.
1. Keep your dog indoors at times when fireworks are likely to go off
Take your dog for a nice long walk well before dark. You might not know that for most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11pm, but this is extended to midnight on Bonfire Night. So, try to tire your dog out before it gets dark and then if necessary, take them out for final toilet walks once the fireworks have stopped. If your dog is particularly scared of fireworks, you may want to feed them early too. If you have time, introduce these changes gradually towards the end of October so you don’t suddenly disrupt your dog’s routine.
2. Create a ‘safe place’ inside your home for your dog to hide from fireworks
A table draped with a blanket is a great retreat, or if your dog is used to being in a crate, cover it and leave it open with blankets inside. Avoid locking your dog in a crate, as this can be even more stressful for them. Give your dog options so they can choose where to go to feel safe.
3. The sudden bangs of fireworks can be masked by keeping a radio or TV on.
Classical music will help to calm dogs in general, and music with quite a loud bass will be ideal for masking bangs when played at a volume that your dog is happy with. Youtube even has collections of suitable music now.
4. Always draw the curtains to minimise the lights from the fireworks
It’s not only the sound of fireworks that can be distressing for dogs, it’s also the light and flashes in the sky. Leave lights on indoors to reduce the impact of the flashes too.
5. Don’t confine your dog to one room as they may hurt themselves trying to get out, particularly if they become stressed
Dogs may feel safest and be most comfortable curled up in their usual spot with you rather than a designated ‘safe place’ you have created, so allow them access to all quiet areas of the house.
6. Make sure that your dogs are microchipped and that their microchip details are up to date
In America more dogs go missing on 4th of July than any other day. In the worst-case scenario, any dog that does run away from home while fireworks are going off can be reunited with their owner much more easily if it has been microchipped. Did you know that microchipping your dog has been a legal requirement since April 2016?
7. If your dog can see that fireworks have no effect on you, this may help decrease their anxiety
Animals are highly perceptive and will pick up if you are behaving unusually. Following your dog around or being overly affectionate may cause them to feel nervous or confused. You can still reassure your pet, by playing with their favourite toy for example but try to behave as normally as possible. The more you change your behaviour, the more unsettled your dog may become.
8. Make sure your home and garden are as escape-proof as possible
Make sure all doors and windows are closed firmly. If possible, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to doors that lead outside, especially when people are coming in or out of the house. Tighten up any escape routes in your garden, just in case, and make sure everyone in the house, especially children, know they need to be quick opening and closing external doors.
9. Provide dogs with a supplement or collar to keep them calm
You can buy an increasing number of pills, sprays or collars designed to keep dogs calm during firework season or the rest of the year. The Wiser Pet Calming Collar is a great choice if you are looking for a natural aid. You could also try stuffing a puzzle toy such as a Kong with layers of food to keep your dog occupied.
10. If your dog is still extremely stressed by fireworks after following our advice, you may want to consult your vet
A vet may be able to prescribe medication to help reduce your pet’s anxiety – however, any medicinal treatment should be considered in conjunction with a behaviour management plan.