Dogs and fireworks
Unlike a lot of humans, dogs can be scared of fireworks. The loud noises and flashing lights of fireworks can be very frightening for your dog, but there are things you can do to minimise your dog's stress levels. Here are our top tips for managing dogs and fireworks.
While there are things you can do to calm your dog during fireworks, getting your dog used to loud sounds can be a better long-term solution. By gradually desensitising your dog to loud noises over a period of time, you can teach them to associate these sounds with something positive, instead of something to be scared of.
To learn how, watch our video guide on desensitising your dog to loud noises.
10 ways to help your dog through fireworks season
1. Avoid letting your dog outdoors at times when fireworks are likely to go off
Take your dog for a nice long walk well before dark. For most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11pm, but this curfew is extended to midnight on Bonfire Night so try to tire your dog out before it gets dark and then take them out for final toilet walks once the fireworks have stopped. If your dog is particularly scared of fireworks, you may want to feed them early too. If you have time, introduce these changes gradually over a few days so you don’t suddenly disrupt your dog’s routine.
2. Create a ‘safe place’ inside your home for your dog to hide from fireworks
A table draped with a blanket is a great retreat, or if your dog is used to being in a crate, cover it and leave it open with blankets inside. Don’t lock your dog in the crate, as this can be even more stressful for them. Give your dog options so they can choose where to hide.
3. The sudden bang of fireworks can be masked by keeping a radio or TV on, which can reduce the impact noises may have on your pet
Classical music will help to calm dogs in general, and music with quite a h4 bass will be ideal for masking bangs when played at a volume that your dog is happy with.
4. Always draw the curtains or cover the windows to minimise the lights from the fireworks
It’s not only the sound of fireworks that can cause distress for dogs, it’s also the light and flashes across the sky. Leave lights on indoors to reduce the impact of the flashes too.
5. Don’t confine your dog to one room as they may hurt themselves trying to get out, particularly if they become stressed
Dogs may also be most comfortable curled up in their usual spot with you rather than a designated ‘safe place’, so allow them access to all safe areas of the house.
6. Make sure that your dogs are microchipped and that their microchip details are up to date
In the worst-case scenario, any dog that does get out or run away from home while fireworks are going off can be reunited with its owner much more easily if it has been microchipped. Microchipping your dog is now a legal requirement, as of April 2016.
7. If your dog can see that fireworks have no effect on you, this may help decrease their anxiety
Animals are highly perceptive and will notice if you’re behaving unusually. Following your dog around or being overly affectionate may cause them to feel nervous or confused. You can still reassure your pet, by playing with their favourite toy for example but try to behave as normally as possible. The more you change your behaviour, the more anxious your dog may become.
8. Make sure your home and garden are as escape-proof as possible
Make sure all doors and windows are closed firmly. If possible, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to doors that lead outside, especially when people are coming in or out of the house. Secure any escape routes in your garden, just in case, and make sure everyone in the house knows they need to be quick opening and closing external doors.
9. Provide dogs with a long-lasting chew to help keep them distracted
You can buy a Pedigree Jumbone from the shop here at Battersea for your dog to enjoy, and you can also help keep the dogs in our kennels calm by donating a chew to one of our dogs via our online shop to help keep them calm. You could also try stuffing a puzzle toy such as a Kong with layers of food to keep your dog occupied.
10. If your dog is still extremely stressed by fireworks after following our advice, you may want to consult your vet
A vet may be able to provide medication to help reduce your pet’s anxiety – however, any medicinal treatment should always be accompanied by a behaviour management plan.