As a young lad, which I should add was quite a while ago now, fireworks and bonfire night was one of the highlights of the year.
Not only did it mean loud and spectacular displays across the night sky, but it also meant fairground rides, games and thoroughly enjoyable evenings out with family and mates.
Even as I got a little older, fireworks night remained a favourite amongst nights out through the year.
Then I got a dog!
How terribly did I feel for my years of enjoyment the first night my dog was cowering by my side as a result of some nearby fireworks display! Although to be fair, unless you’ve had a pet or even a horse, you don’t realise the impact that fireworks can have on them.
In a survey conducted by PDSA in 2018, 51% of veterinary professionals said they have seen an increase in pets with phobias, such as fireworks, whilst 40% of dog owners (3.6 million dogs) report their dog is afraid of fireworks.
Add to this the recent local restrictions and, in some areas, enforced lockdowns, we can only assume that this will mean an increase of more local displays, or worse still, more garden firework displays.
The good news is that you can help your pets cope by preparing in advance. So before the fireworks start, here are some tips to help try and alleviate the stress and anxiety that fireworks can cause in dogs.
Create a safe, quiet place for your dog with positive associations – this can be done long before fireworks night and is a good thing to have anyway, not just for fireworks night.
Tire them Out
On the days, more than likely a weekend, that firework displays are planned to take place, take them out for a long walk before it gets dark and hopefully, they’ll be too tired to be overly bothered about the sounds.
Whilst this won’t do too much to reduce the sound, it can help reduce the number of bright flashes which cause alarm.
Turn up the TV/Radio
As with closing curtains and windows, this won’t completely eradicate the noise but it can help dull the external noise.
Try and feed them before it gets dark as if they get anxious they may not feel like eating.
Keep them Occupied
I actually tried this the last time we had fireworks being set off nearby and it worked a treat. They were so excited about chasing the ball in the house they seemed to forget about the fireworks.
Never leave them alone during a fireworks display – enough said!
Never tell them off for being afraid.
Never try and get them outside to see ‘that it’s nothing to worry about’ – they simply don’t understand and it’s only their natural instinct to be scared of loud noises.
Talk to neighbours
Depending on how friendly you are with your neighbours, this may not be possible, but try and find out if any neighbours are planning a display. If you can’t physically ask them, check local community social media pages and where possible ask the question.
Dogs behaviour can closely mirror our own – when we get excited and start jumping around you can rest assured they’ll also get excited. Likewise, if we’re sat calmly on the sofa watching TV, they’ll generally be legs akimbo in a deep dog sleep!
Try to act and behave as normal – stay calm and relaxed and this will send positive signals to your dog.
One thing that can help is giving them treats specifically designed to help calm them – our Calming Treats have been specifically designed to help alleviate stress and anxiety.
One method that is often used is called ‘Sound Desensitisation’ or ‘Sound Therapy’.
Similar to programmes that police dogs and horses have to go through before being put into public work, it works by gradually exposing them to a tiny amount of sound and then increasing it slowly over time.
Check their Microchip Information
Make sure your dog is microchipped and the information is up to date – this will ensure that your dog can be returned to you if they run away scared.
If you have any additional tips for helping keep dogs calm during fireworks, please feel to share them on our Facebook page or send them through to us and we’ll publish them.
If you having any questions relating to your dog’s diet, or if you would like to discuss how our food could potentially help your dog, please get in touch.