Fireworks displays can be awe-inspiring for us, but for our canine companions, the loud booms, high-pitch squeals, and bright flashes can be downright terrifying. Many dogs suffer from anxiety and stress during fireworks, which can lead to behavioural issues and health problems if not addressed. As responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to help our furry friends feel safe and secure during these festivities. In this guide, we’ll explore practical tips and strategies to assist you in comforting your dogs during fireworks.
Create a Safe Haven
Identify a quiet, comfortable space in your home where your dog can retreat to. This might be a cozy corner in a room or a designated crate.
Make the area appealing by placing your dog’s favourite toys, blankets, and perhaps an item of your clothing with your scent.
If this can be in a room with no windows then that would be even more beneficial for your pooch.
Start Desensitisation Early
Gradually expose your dog to the sound of fireworks in a controlled manner. Use recorded firework sounds at a low volume initially and gradually increase it over time.
Pair the sound with positive experiences, such as treats, playtime, or cuddles, to create positive associations.
Do this long before firework season, and in the build up to the key days as well.
Take your dog for a long walk or engage in active play earlier in the day. This can help release excess energy and may make your dog more relaxed during the fireworks. Make sure you are out well before any of the excitement begins.
Stay Calm and Confident
Dogs often look to their owners for cues on how to react. If you remain calm and act normally, it can reassure your dog that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Avoid comforting your dog excessively during fireworks, as this may reinforce anxious behaviour.
Use Calming Products
Consider using products like calming vests, wraps, or pheromone diffusers to help ease anxiety. These can provide a sense of security for your dog. Talk to a behaviourist if you need any further guidance on any of these.
Consult with your veterinarian about natural supplements or medications that may help calm your dog. For example you can be prescribed a gel, which is rubbed into your dog’s gums, and acts as a mild anaesthetic.
Close Windows and Curtains
Reduce the impact of the visual and auditory stimuli by closing windows and curtains. This helps muffle the sound and prevents bright flashes from startling your dog. Play loud music / put on the TV loud to help further with sensory deprevation.
Keep your dog occupied with toys, puzzles, or treats. Engaging activities can help redirect your dog’s focus away from the noise outside.
Consult a Professional
If your dog’s anxiety is severe, consider seeking professional help. A veterinarian or a certified dog behaviourist can provide tailored advice and potential solutions.
Identification and Safety
Ensure that your dog is wearing proper identification, including an updated tag with your contact information. In case your dog gets scared and escapes, this can increase the chances of a safe return. I have been involved in more than one countryside dog search for poor dogs who have run away during a fireworks display nearby.
Plan Ahead for Future Fireworks
Be proactive in preparing your dog for future fireworks events. Use the desensitisation techniques regularly and consistently, so your dog becomes more resilient over time.
By taking a thoughtful and proactive approach, you can help your furry friend weather the storm of fireworks with as little stress as possible. Remember, every dog is unique, so be patient and adjust these strategies based on your dog’s individual needs. The goal is to create an environment where your dog feels safe and secure, allowing both of you to enjoy the festivities in peace.