Helping dogs to cope with fireworks: A guide for dog owners.

Helping dogs to cope with fireworks: A guide for dog owners.

Why should I think about my dog during fireworks season?

 

Fireworks can be a dazzling and exhilarating spectacle for us humans, especially children, but for our four-legged pals, they often trigger anxiety and fear. Many dogs are terrified of the sudden and unexpected loud noises and bright lights associated with fireworks displays. As responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to help our canine companions feel safe and calm during these occasions. Let’s look at various strategies and tips for assisting dogs in coping with fireworks.

Understanding the Problem

 

Dogs’ reactions to fireworks can vary from mild unease to extreme panic. It’s essential to recognise the signs of distress in your dog, which may include trembling, panting, digging, barking excessively, hiding, pooping and urinating, or trying to escape. Some dogs might even injure themselves when attempting to flee from the perceived threat and many dogs get loose on fireworks night leading to further traumatisation for them and their families. Understanding your pet’s anxiety is the first step in addressing the issue.

 

Prepare to help your dog during fireworks season.

 

See your vet with Fido to be medically assessed. There is a known relationship between pain and noise sensitivity. If your dog is in pain, startling  can be painful, and this can increase fear of noises. 

 

Create a Safe Space for your noise sensitive dog

Designate a quiet, secure space in your home where Fido can retreat to when fireworks start. This could be a bedroom, a wardrobe (but leave it so they can get out), behind the sofa, under a bed or in a bathroom. Make the area comfortable with their bed, favourite toys, and some soothing music to mask the noise.

Desensitisation training

Prior to fireworks season, consider using sound recordings of fireworks at low volumes. Gradually increase the volume over several weeks to help your dog acclimatise. Whilst exposing them to the noises try to engage your pup in fun activities to normalise the sounds. You should use a blue tooth speaker and change where the sound comes from as you do this.

Seek dog behaviourist support.

Consult with a professional dog behaviourist for strategies to help desensitise your dog and reduce their fear of loud noises. There are often other factors involved that contribute to noise sensitivity that may need addressing and it’s not unusual for desensitisation training to be quite slow if there are other factors that are not being addressed.

ID and microchipping

Ensure your dog has proper identification, including a collar with an up-to-date tag and a microchip. In case they do escape during fireworks, this will increase the chances of a safe return. Ensure you keep your dog’s collar on during this time even indoors as long as you are with them. It is best to plan ahead and ensure your dog is unable to escape during fireworks events. There is up to a 100% increase in lost dogs during fireworks seasons.

 

Helping your dog during fireworks

 

Stay Calm for your dog during fireworks.

Dogs are sensitive to their owners’ emotions. Remain calm and composed to reassure your pal that everything is okay.

Keep Indoors and keep doors shut.

Never take your dog to a fireworks display. Keep them indoors, preferably with someone they trust. Do not leave them alone under any circumstances.

Close Windows and Curtains

Reduce noise and bright flashes by closing windows and curtains. This can help minimise the impact of fireworks.

Distraction

Offer engaging toys or treats to divert your dog’s attention from the fireworks. Interactive toys like puzzle feeders can be particularly helpful.

Try to reduce sound of fireworks volume      

Play music or watch the TV to mask the noise. Have a fun and lively game with your dog and, as long as Fido is accustomed to this, you can make the game noisy, lots of encouragement and cheering during play is usually great fun for dogs too. Not only will this help Fido to associate fun with fireworks, it will also help mask the fireworks noise.

 

After Fireworks

Avoid Punishment

If your dog has displayed anxious behaviour during fireworks including destructive behaviour or toileting accidents, do not punish them. This will only intensify their fear. They are not in control of their behaviour when they are panicking.

Gradual Exposure

Continue with desensitisation training in the following days and weeks ahead to further reduce your dog’s sensitivity to loud noises.

Consult a Vet

If your dog’s anxiety is severe, consult your vet. They can provide advice on medications or other treatments to help to reduce the fear Fido may experience. In the worst case, some dogs may benefit from sedation. But discuss with your vet and behaviourist who should work together to find the best solution for your four legged friend.

 

There is a lot you can do to help a noise sensitive dog

Helping dogs cope with fireworks requires patience, understanding, and proactive measures. By taking steps to create a safe and comfortable environment for Fido, you can significantly reduce their anxiety during fireworks displays. Remember that every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another, so be prepared to experiment with different strategies and consider working with a professional; your vet should be able to recommend someone to help you. With your support and care, your furry friend can face fireworks season with greater comfort and confidence.

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