How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

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Every year on November 5th, we are celebrating Guy Fawkes Day. A day about joy, colours, and fantastic fireworks. And the day usually comes with a bang! What gets us excited, can be a very frightening event for your dog. 

Many dog owners deal with howling, barking, and generally anxious dogs during fireworks. It is fair to say that this is busiest time of the year for animal management teams, as they deal with animals on the loose after being frightened by the loud boom of fireworks. Let's have a look at what we can do to help your dog cope during fireworks!

What can I do to help my dog during fireworks?

1. Head out on a nice long walk before the event  

A nice long walk together before the sun sets tires your dog out and calms him down. He will have a better sleep and is less agitated which can help decrease the chances of a negative reaction to the upcoming fireworks. However, double-check that your dog is wearing a properly adjusted collar and ID tag and keep him on leash. Some people start with fireworks during the day which can scare your dog and cause him to run away. 

2.  Keep Your Dog Away From Fireworks

First of all, don’t take your dogs to the fireworks show or outside where the event is happening. The bright flashes and loud noises can easily scare your dog and potentially damage his hearing.

3. Keep your dog inside

Keeping your dog inside in the evening is the best idea, especially if you fear they might not react well. 

4. Create a Safe Place For Your Dog

Most dogs tend to hide when they are scared - they are naturally looking for that "cave" to get away from it all. Make sure you build up your dog's crate (if that's where your dog feels safe) or create a calming environment beforehand. This would be the most quiet space in your home. Make sure your dog can't see or hear the fireworks by closing all windows and curtains. Provide your pup with a chew toy or a chewing stick as chewing has a calming effect. 

5. Play familiar noises

You can try leaving a TV or radio on to help mask the sounds of the fireworks. This can be a great distraction and could show your dog that today is "just a normal evening". 

6. Stay at home with your dog

Please don't head out to see the show and leave your dog behind home alone. If you can, try staying home with your dog or leaving them in the hands of a trusted family member or friend. Most dogs are looking for protection in their owners and can get even more fearful when left alone during the scary event.

7. Comfort your dog - the right way

You can absolutely comfort your dog if he’s afraid. The key is how to do so. It’s important to remain calm and use a soothing, even voice. Petting them can be comforting — long, slow, firm strokes along the length of their body are typically very soothing. The one thing to avoid is to get frantic in any way. “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK” in a higher-than-average pitch may make your dog think that there really is something to fear. Try your best to remain calm and reassuring to help your dog get through the evening. 

What else can I do?

Make sure your dog has proper ID!

Ensure that the information on your dog's collar is current and make sure your dog is microchipped. If he happens to escape, there’s a better chance he will get returned.

How can I prepare my dog for next year?

Even though you have taken every precaution, your dog might react with panic and fear to fireworks. But there is something you can do to help prepare him for next year! You can desensitise your dog by playing sounds of fireworks (softly) so your dog is used to hearing them. Try pairing a video of the sounds of fireworks with a treat your dog likes. This method is called counter-conditioning and can improve your dog's overall reaction to loud noises and fireworks. 

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