How To Help Your Dog Cope With Firework Season
Fun for you... Scary for dogs
Sound sensitivities, including fireworks, are very common in dogs and reactions range from mild to extreme. While a certain degree of fear is normal, it becomes distressing for both you and your dog if this fear is or becomes severe.
Signs to look out for include:
- Ears back
- Excessive panting
- Hiding away
- Barking excessively
- Messing in the house
Ideally dogs with sound sensitivities need a long-term behaviour modification plan, which includes desensitisation and counterconditioning. For more information, always speak to your vet for advice. This type of training needs to be started once firework season is over (ideally February/March). In the short-term however, there are some steps you can take to help your dog cope with fireworks this season.
The best way to prepare for fireworks is to think a bit like a dog.
Dogs will feel scared and alarmed by the loud firework noises. They won't understand that fireworks cannot harm them and generally will feel safer when they have a hiding space.
You can help by making your dog a ‘safe haven’ or a ‘dog den’. If your dog already has a hiding place then this space can be further improved by making it as snug and secure for your dog as possible, for example by adding blankets or bedding. If you are making your ‘dog den’ from scratch try to do this a few weeks in advance so that your dog has time to get used to it and understand that it is a safe place to go to when fireworks start.
Pheromones are natural chemical ‘signals’, which are secreted by animals to communicate different types of messages to themselves or others.
One pheromone dogs use is called the ‘dog appeasing pheromone’ and is what a mother produces to reassure her puppies. This pheromone has shown to not only reassure puppies, but also adult dogs in challenging situations such as fireworks night.
Take a look at the calming products our friends at Pets at Home can offer your dog here.
Speak to your vet about the best way to use it.
- Ensure all windows and doors are shut. Close the curtains and turn on the TV or play music to muffle the sound of the fireworks.
- Consider distracting your dog from the fireworks by giving them a chew, toy or playing a game with them.
- Use a calming product close to your ‘dog den’ or hiding place.
- Walk your dog early in the evening when it is still light outside.
- Ensure your dog is micro-chipped. This is a legal requirement for dogs from 8 weeks old and will increase the chances of your dog being returned to you in case they run off and get lost.
- Ensure your dog has a collar and tag on, with contact details clearly displayed.
- NEVER punish your dog for displaying unwanted behaviour as a result of fireworks going off. This will only make them more distressed.