With bonfire night and fireworks season rapidly upon us, many of us will be looking for ways to keep our dogs calm and safe from the loud firework noises. This can be a fun season for children and adults but dogs do not enjoy the experience of fireworks. Dogs can be left traumatised by the loud and unexpected noises from the fireworks outside. There are several ways that you can prevent your dog from suffering any undue stress and reduce anxiety caused by the fireworks.
The most important thing is to act like nothing unusual is going on. Dogs are highly intelligent and will pick up on the smallest signals from you. It’s important keep your dog calm and provide the assurance they crave but don’t make a big deal out of the whole affair. Your dog will notice and become anxious themselves.
Prepare for the fireworks
Check to see if there are any local fireworks events happening and find out from neighbours whether they are planning any parties. It’s worth knowing in advance so you are able to take extra care with your dog on those particular nights. Buying a thundershirt jacket is a great way to prepare your dog for fireworks night. They are brilliant as they reduce your dog’s anxiety by providing pressure and support. They’re also ideal if your dog suffers from general anxiety.
Click here to see the full range of thundershirts, available from Amazon.
Give your dog plenty of exercise
It’s a great idea to give your dog a longer than usual walk just before dusk. This will help run down energy levels and the heightened activity levels during the day will reduce their overall anxiety later on when they’re much sleepier.
Gather their favourite toys
Just like small children, dogs all have their favourite toys. This might be a ball, a soft toy or even a blanket. This is about giving them something to take their mind off the unexpected sounds from outside and to provide them with additional comforts.
Minimise the noise levels from outside
The best way to do this would be to close all the windows and draw the curtains where possible. If there is a side to your house which is usually quiet, it may be worth allowing your dog to move to that part of the house during the loudest moments. Sometimes the visual aspect of fireworks can also create further anxiety, so removing this distraction is always a good idea.
Turn up the TV
Some dogs seem to really love watching TV. You can read our blog on that very subject where we discuss what dogs really see when they watch the TV. On fireworks night, having the television on may be a helpful distraction to help drown out the loud noises outside.
Make a den
Make a little retreat spot for your dogs where they can go to when the night is in full swing. This could be a chair with a blanket over it, a crate with the door left open or just a nice comfy spot on the sofa. The key here is to have blankets and cushions that your dog can snuggle into when everything gets a bit much. Don’t add stress by forcing this on them but leave it as an option.
Provide distracting activities
There are some great toys you can buy where you hide a treat inside. It’s a bit of a game for the dog which can really provide a great distraction for them. The desire to ‘win’ the treat will hopefully be enough to subdue much of the anxiety from the unusual noises.
Don’t leave your dog alone
If your dog suffers the effects of fireworks night they might be prone to separation anxiety as well. What your dog really wants is to be with you. You can be a calming and reassuring influence just by being in the same room as your dog. As mentioned before, don’t overly fuss your dog. Just act normally. But don’t let them out of your sight during the peak of the fireworks.
Medications and homeopathic remedies
There are multiple remedies available in stores and online for the purpose of calming your dog and easing their distress. We’ve left this one until last because you need to tread with caution here. Many are perfectly safe, but you should not give your dog any medications without first consulting a vet. Use this option if your dog is particularity susceptible to anxiety and discuss the situation with your vet. There are also some great products available from Waitrose to reduce your pet’s anxiety.