Fireworks are fabulous but only for people! Many dogs are terrified by all those bangs, whistles, burning smells and bright lights. Firework displays can cause a great deal of canine stress. It is no coincidence that so many runaways occur on the nights when we unleash the pyrotechnics.
How do you prepare your pooch for fireworks and ensure that they remain stress-free?
Check for local displays
Check the dates of firework displays in your area so that you know when they are happening. You can’t legislate for private displays but the vast majority of these will occur on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.
Perfect preparation for pooches
Not all dogs are scared by fireworks. But if you think that your dog might be spooked or you already know that they will be, there are a few things you can do to reduce the impact of those rockets.
There is a copious amount of downloadable material that will enable you to expose your dog to firework noises before the actual displays. Alternatively invest in a CD with firework noises and play this to your pooch. The noises together with your calm demeanour will help to acclimatise your pet to the scary situation. Stroke your dog and comfort them when you play the sounds and repeat the exercise several times. However, it is important to be aware that the most noise sensitive animals could be traumatised by the recordings.
Identify your dog
Before any night on which there may be fireworks, check that your dog’s microchip details are up to date. Ensure that they are wearing their collar on the night and that it features an ID tag. If your pet does make a run for it on bonfire night, you will be much more likely to get them back if they are easy to identify.
Before the Fireworks
Get yourself organised well before the noise starts. Top up your pet’s water bowl. If they become stressed, they will pant and need to drink more than usual. Feed them before the display in case they are too anxious to eat during the fireworks. Take your dog for their evening walk before it gets dark to avoid the risk of fireworks going off while you are out. Once you are safely indoors, shut all doors and windows. Draw the curtains to reduce the visual impact of the display. Ensure that your pooch cannot escape.
When the noise starts
Switch the TV on to mask the noise outside and provide a distraction. Act normally yourself and pamper your pooch. If your pet seeks comfort from you, make a fuss of them.
Don’t try to acclimatise your dog to the noise by taking them outside to face their fears. They will simply become more scared and distressed. Don’t tell them off for being fearful and ensure that they cannot escape if you have to open an external door.
Give your dog a chew to chomp through during the fireworks.
If your dog remains prone to being scared, invest in a calming diffuser that you can use when fireworks are likely.