As we roll into autumn, the nights are starting to draw in sooner, and with that, plenty of people will be purchasing fireworks for the celebrations and festivities ahead. However, while this may be great fun for people, our dogs can often get very scared or anxious due to the loud, frequent noise. While some dogs can cope well with the rolling noise of fireworks, others can show signs of high anxiety.
With that in mind, it is always a good idea to help your dog prepare for what may be a noisy and scary season ahead for them. Here are a few tips you may wish to try to make things a little more comfortable for them!
Keep Your Dog Indoors
This is crucial. If your dog is likely to bolt if feeling scared or anxious, you are going to need to keep them away from potential hazards during firework season. It makes sense to exercise them during the day, so that you can safely contain them in your home once things get dark. You should also consider closing your curtains to block out flashing lights. This may not be a trigger for all dogs, but it is worth preparing for.
Create a Quiet, Safe Space
Dogs may need a lot of comfort during firework season. Therefore, it is a good idea to create a reliable, soft space for them to bed down in during the festivities. This space should be quiet and warm, and should have access to water, and plenty of treats. It is never a good idea to shut your dog away, however, so always make sure they have access to you if they need you – if you are staying in the house with them.
Consider a Noise CD or Background Noise
In some cases, dogs may adapt to noises and may learn that there is nothing to be afraid of if you play a ‘noise CD’, or setting your TV or radio to a certain programme or channel. However, it is recommended that you speak with an animal behaviourist if you are worried that this treatment may have adverse effects on your pet. It is never recommended that you use noise CDs or noise training if your dog is severely anxious around loud sounds. Always consult a specialist or behaviourist.
Dogs pick up on very slight changes in our behaviour. They follow us in everything we do! Therefore, to avoid triggering anxiety during fireworks, always make sure to act normally. Adopt a positive and cheerful attitude – play with and fuss your pet as you normally would!
Don’t Chastise Your Dog
It’s important not to punish dogs for showing anxious behaviour. This will only confuse or frighten them more. It is more important that you show them that they are safe, and that you are there for them. It is also very important that you don’t focus on trying to get your dog to face their fears. This is a counter-productive process which will only end up making your pet feel worse.
Don’t ever take your dog to a fireworks display or bonfire event. Even if your pets are confident and unfazed by loud noises, these events can still be very scary for animals. Do right by your pets and keep them at home where it’s safe.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your vet, or local animal behaviourist, if you are struggling to support your dog with his or her anxiety. Follow the above tips as best you can, and don’t worry – providing you offer a warm, safe environment for your dog, you are doing the best job you possibly can.
Dogs and Fireworks: Dealing with Anxiety (The Kennel Club)
Dogs and Fireworks (Blue Cross)