Many dogs can be startled or even afraid of the noise of fireworks and, with displays and private use becoming more common, it is important to know what you can do to help your dog through this potentially stressful time.
Dogs that are afraid of fireworks can be a challenge, but there are some things that you can do to help.
Try to keep your dog indoors when fireworks are in use and provide distractions for them. Play some relaxing music or watch TV with your dog or play some games until the noises have ended. Stay calm yourself as your behaviour will affect your dog’s responses too.
Fireworks are a problem for many dogs
Even the calmest of dogs can be affected by sudden loud noises such as fireworks, thunder and similar.
Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and many sounds which seem innocuous to humans are frightening to dogs and can result in reactions that go from the bizarre to those of absolute fear.
Dogs that are outdoors may escape and run away while other will probably bark in alarm or go into hiding or display other behaviours as a result of the noise.
Keep your dog indoors when there are fireworks
If possible, keep your dog indoors when fireworks are being used. This will help to limit their exposure to the noise and will also make it easier for you to provide distractions and support.
Don’t cuddle your dog
As tempting as it may be to soothe and cuddle your dog when he is scared of fireworks, these actions could make things worse.
Although your intentions are good, when you cuddle him you are, in effect, rewarding him for being scared of the noise.
By giving your dog extra attention you are ‘telling him’ that it is okay and good to be scared, reinforcing his behaviour which will make him worse in the future.
Try to provide some distractions for your dog to help take their mind off the noise. This could include playing some relaxing music, watching TV together or playing some games.
Stay calm yourself
It’s important to stay calm yourself as your behaviour will affect your dog’s responses too. If you’re feeling anxious, they are likely to pick up on this and become more agitated themselves.
Consider using a ThunderShirt
For some dogs, the use of a ThunderShirt can help to provide them with a sense of security and calm them down.
The ThunderShirt is a tight-fitting garment that helps to ease anxiety in dogs and can be purchased from most pet stores.
- ThunderShirt: Calming Jacket for Dogs , Instant Natural Relief for Anxiety, Fireworks, Travel, Thunder - Grey Jacket 5 sizes M
- ThunderShirt: an Effective Solution to Relax Stressed Dogs
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Talk to your vet
If your dog’s fear of fireworks is severe, you may want to speak to your vet about what other options are available to help ease their anxiety. This could include the use of medication or behavioural therapy.
Try to acclimatise your dog to loud noises
If you know that there are going to be fireworks in your area, you could try to acclimatise your dog to loud noises in advance.
This could involve playing recordings of fireworks at a low volume and gradually increasing the volume over time.
A good time to begin this would be at mealtimes when your dog is doing something pleasurable – eating.
Start with low volume, short sessions and gradually increase the volume and length of time as your dog grows more comfortable with the noise.
Stay with your dog when fireworks are in use
If possible, stay with your dog during displays and try to act normally when the fireworks are going off.
By ignoring the fireworks yourself and getting on with the day to day activities you will help them to understand that there is nothing to be afraid of.
Provide a safe haven for your dog
Make a den out of blankets or similar for your dog to hide in.
If you have a cage then place some blankets over the top and encourage your dog to go into his cage, leaving the door open for him to come out when he wants to.
Keep your dog on a lead
When taking your dog outdoors, keep them on a lead in case they try to run away.
Also be aware that some dogs may become aggressive when they are frightened and so it is important to keep them under control.
Remove hazards from your garden
Ensure that any fireworks that are being used are done so safely and that there is no danger of them landing in your garden.
If possible, try to keep your dog away from areas where fireworks are being used.
How to deal with a dog that has a serious fear of fireworks
If your dog has a serious fear of fireworks then you should seek professional help from a qualified behaviourist or veterinary behaviourist.
They will be able to advise you on what can be done to help ease your dog’s anxiety and make sure that any treatment is carried out safely.
Your vet may be able to prescribe medication that will help your dog to remain calm.
There are also over the counter options available for purchase that are designed to support dogs with anxiety.
One such option is the Adaptil Calm Home Diffuser which is available on Amazon – it’s always best though to talk to your vet before trying any self administered options.
Leave your dog at home
Even if your dog shows no reaction to fireworks it is always best to leave him at home when you visit a display or elsewhere where fireworks may be used.
He may have never reacted in the past but this does not mean that this cannot occur in the future so it is best to avoid the risk and leave your pet at home where he is safe.
Dogs can have a very real fear of fireworks which can cause them great distress.
If your dog is afraid of fireworks then there are a number of things that you can do to help ease their anxiety and make sure that they are safe.
Keep your dog indoors with lots of distractions to keep him occupied and, if you are in any doubt then the most important thing to do is to talk to your vet who will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your pet.
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Last update on 2023-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API