Bonfire night normally means wrapping up warm and setting off to watch a pretty firework display light up the sky. Whilst we enjoy the loud explosions and find ourselves ‘oooohhing’ and ‘awwhhinngg’, this isn’t the same for our four-legged friends.
For dogs, firework night can be extremely frightening, and can we blame them? The unusual sounds, flashes and noises aren’t something they are used to and it’s something they can’t understand. Nearly half of UK dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks and can result in them acting irrationally. The sounds trigger their nervous systems and they become anxious or afraid, even if they aren’t typically a nervous dog. Running away from the noise is a survival instinct so it’s important they are kept safe to avoid them getting into potentially dangerous situations.
It can sometimes be difficult to keep our dogs calm when the fireworks start, but there are a few things we can try to help them cope better. A calm atmosphere can help make firework night less frightening.
Here are some top tips:
- Make sure you research and find out when your local firework displays are due to take place.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day & before the fireworks are due to begin.
- Keep your dog indoors, preferably with a human companion.
- Try to distract them – a stuffed KONG toy with their favourite filling is a good idea. You can also try to play with your dog, but don’t force them.
- Create a safe haven for your dog to hide – somewhere they feel safe & calm and make sure they have their favourite toy with them.
- Ensure there is some background noise by turning up your TV or radio.
- Ensure all windows are closed & your curtains are drawn, minimising the bangs & flashes.
- Make sure your dog can’t escape and ensure your dog is wearing an ID tag & collar incase they do get out.
- Speak to your neighbours to see if they are putting on any of their own displays so you can make sure your beloved pooch isn’t in the garden.
- Finally, try and make sure you act as normal as possible & remain calm, encouraging your dog to do the same.
- Don’t punish your dog, or tell them off – as this can cause more distress.
- Don’t take your dog to a firework display – even if they are not typically nervous.
Sound therapy can also work particularly well. In the run up to firework night, you can play a CD with firework noises, which can be useful in helping your dog familiarise the sounds in the background.
We wish you all a lovely, safe firework night!