Fireworks and Your Dog

Tips to prepare your dog for fireworks

Just because you enjoy a firework display, the odds are that your dog won’t!

The firework season gets longer and longer.  Fireworks go on sale from 15th October to 10th November, then again 26th – 31st December, plus Diwali and Chinese New Year.

In general, the firework season starts with Halloween and goes onto January with festivals such as Guy Fawkes night, Diwali. Chrismas and New Years eve

Whilst you and your family may enjoy the bangs, pops and fizzes, it is important to remember that pets and wild animals have a different opinions and can even be left traumatised.

Remember that dogs hearing is far more sensitive than ours, so they sound far louder.

Below are some of my top tips to help your pet deal with fireworks

Get a plug-in diffuser.

You can purchase diffusers such as Pet Remedy, which emit a calming spray.  Approximately six weeks before firework night, try plugging these in around the house.

Get out during the day with the dog.

If like me, you tend to go out later in the evening with your dogs, then I would suggest slowly getting them used to going out earlier.  Certainly, before it gets dark, so you can avoid being outside when the pops and bangs start.  Dogs can get easily spooked by sudden bangs if they are do not seem to be scared of fireworks.

It may even be worth getting some help to walk them during the day.  This could be a friend, neighbour or professional dog walker.

Provide your pet with a safe den

To help your dog cope during the firework season, create a safe space.  My dogs head for the bathroom when fireworks start because it is in the middle of the flat and has no windows.  As a result, I moved their food and water bowls into the bathroom along with an old jumper and some smelly socks of mine that had my scent on them.  I also gave them their favourite toy. As a result, if they feel stressed, they head for their bathroom den during the firework season.

In short, let your dog decide where they feel safest and then make it into a den for them.  This may well be their crate. If it is, then making sure it is not near a window or door will help.

Draw the curtains

Before it gets dark, go around the house and make sure all the windows and doors are closed, pull down/close the blinds and draw the curtains.  This will help muffle the sound to some degree but, more importantly, block out all the flashing lights.

Make some noise

To help drown the bangs and whistles, try putting classical music on the radio.  If you have Amazon Prime and Alexa, then you could consider playing “Through a dogs ear” or looking at the skill “calm my dog.”

For the last couple of years, Classic FM has played calming dog music on 5th November.

Have a night in front of the TV with your best friend

It is crucial you don’t leave your pet by themselves when fireworks are going off, especially on the actual firework night. Staying at home with your dog and playing games, etc., will distract them from the fireworks.

If your dog is left at home alone during this scary and challenging period, there is a high chance they will become stressed and possibly even destructive.

Would you please give them a treat

Like many humans, when they are feeling down or stressed, a nice bar of chocolate or something can make a big difference.  This is the same with pets.  Please do not give them chocolate as it is dangerous, but a stuffed kong or similar can make a big difference.

Like brain games, a puzzle ball may even distract them enough; they forget their fears.

Ensure they have up to date ID

If your dog or cat does get spooked and runs away, they must have an up to date ID tag and microchip so they can be quickly reunited.

Do Not punish or scold him for his fear reaction.

Your dog may be acting strangely or trying to access places he is not usually allowed. This is due to fear, so it is essential that you do not punish him for out of character behaviour.

General firework safety

If you are purchasing fireworks, please follow the firework code and make sure they are stored in a robust and secure box and well out of the reach of dogs.

You must check your garden every morning during October and November before letting them out for a comfort break. Check for any fallen rockets as they may still contain some of the chemicals which will be harmful.  The sticks themselves from the fireworks can also be dangerous.