Keeping Your Dog Calm On Firework Night
Firework night only comes once a year, and it is the most dreaded night of the year for some dog owners. Many dogs across the country suffer from terrible anxiety when fireworks are let off.
Dogs can be very sensitive animals and they have amazing hearing, which means loud bangs can really startle them. Crowds of people can also make them anxious, as well as the flashes of light from the fireworks.
Signs of fear
Fireworks night can get very distressing for both dogs and their owners, who struggle to watch as their dog gets more and more terrified. Dogs show fear and react to fireworks in a number of ways.
For example, being destructive, excessive barking, panting, whining, pacing across the floor, shaking, panting and scratching. Some dogs can become so distressed that they actually injure and harm themselves, usually by trying to escape or by chewing or scratching their skin. Other dogs might just sit very still and not do much, but deep down they are petrified.
Prepare in advance
It’s important to prepare for fireworks night in advance, so that you can make your dog feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure your dog has had enough exercise, this will help tire them out and make them more relaxed. Dogs with pent up energy are more likely to become nervous and anxious.
It is important to make sure your garden is secure so they aren’t able to escape. Go around your garden and check for any escape routes. It’s a good idea to keep your dog on the lead when you let them out during the fireworks, even if they have excellent recall they may bolt when they get startled. Where possible, it is always best to keep dogs indoors and not exposed to the fireworks.
In the lead up to fireworks night, create an enclosed space such as a den, with blankets to make them feel secure. This is a place where they can go on fireworks night to feel safe.
Distracting your dog with high rewards can really help. Make sure you have all their favourite toys handy and try and keep them busy with some fun games. Some dogs will be too scared to play, so don’t try and force them.
Closing the curtains and turning the TV volume up can help block out the noises and loud bangs. They will also benefit from low and dim lighting. It’s helpful to know when there are any firework displays on in your area, and whether or not your neighbours are planning having displays. This will help you to prepare in advance and know which nights might be more challenging for you and your dog.
A lot of dog owners feel the need to shower their dogs with attention and constantly try to reassure them. This doesn’t help as it reinforces their anxious behaviour. The best thing to do is keep yourself calm and go about your normal daily routine. Behaving normally as you would on any other day will show them that there is no reason to be fearful.
You may find you have tried everything, and nothing is working, but every dog is different. You certainly won’t find a solution for your dog’s fear overnight. There are however, many natural ways to keep your dog in a controlled and calm state.
For example, Adaptil, which is a plug in spray or a scented collar. A drop of lavender oil on their blanket can also help to calm them down. There is a new product on the market called the thunder shirt, which is a snug coat to make your dog feel secure if suffering from anxiety. It’s safe, effective and drug free. You can also get calming tablets from pet shops and anti anxiety medication from your vet.
Preparing for next year
If after firework night you realise your dog is really fearful, you can begin preparation for next year.You might want to consult a canine behaviourist or talk to your vet about ways to help your dog.
You can also to record a video of fireworks and play this video on extremely low volume on a daily basis. Gradually over time you can turn the volume as your dog doesn’t react, which slowly desensitises them to the noise of fireworks. Doing these some of these things are preparing in advance will give your dog the best chance of coping on firework night.