How to help your dog during the fireworks season
Updated: Oct 28, 2019
The first thing I'd like to state is you can never reinforce fear! I have read and heard other dog owners and even dog trainers say that if your dog is scared and comes over to you for comfort you should ignore the dog as you will reinforce their fear and make it worse!! If your dog does seek comfort in you then please do help them by giving them cuddles if that is what they want.
Make sure your dog has a safe space to go to in your home. Most dogs like to go into a small space to help them feel safe. Their crate, under your bed, behind the sofa. Your dog will pick a spot!
Close the curtains to cover the light of the fireworks.
Turn the radio on to help muffle the noise. BBC classic FM has a pet friendly segment on this year on the 5th November (Classical music has been shown to help reduce stress.)
Go for your walk before dusk. Never try to take your dog out for their walk when the fireworks have started or risk them starting while you are still out.
Make sure your dog is wearing an up to date name tag and is microchipped. There is a 30% increase in pets escaping around fireworks time.
If your dog is happy to eat while the fireworks are on, then you can distract them with a stuffed Kong or long lasting chew like a Pizzel stick, Yak bar or cow's hoof.
Don't leave your dog home alone, or in a different room from the one you are in.
Don't take your dog to the firework display. Even if your dog does not show signs of stress at home when the fireworks are on.
Never punish your dog for being scared, nervous or anxious.
Never take your dog outside even if on lead when the firework display is on.
Monitor toilet breaks. Always go into the garden with your dog and have them on a secure harness and lead. Dogs can often get out of their collars especially when stressed so using a good fitting harness would be better.
Products that can help
Pet Remedy can help with anxiety and stress. It is a spray that can be put on your pets bedding or safe area.
Thunder coat / thundershirt is a tight fitting wrap that your dog can wear. It can make your dog feel safe.
Firework sounds on Youtube could help a few weeks prior to the firework season. Make sure you play them at a very low volume first then gradually increase the volume as the days go on. Only play it for a couple of minutes at a time, no more than 5 minutes! If your dog is starting to get scared then switch off the firework sounds immediately. Try again the next day at a much lower volume.
If you live in the Cambridge, UK area and would like to get ready for the firework season, contact me so we can discuss the next step.