Fireworks night is one of the most stressful nights of the year for lots of dogs and their owners. It is filled with bright lights, loud noises and strong smoky smells that scare around 40% of our dogs. Scared dogs can be unpredictable, miserable and flighty. There are lots of things to take into consideration when approaching fireworks night, and the most important is to prepare in advance.
The absolute first thing is to check your animal’s microchip and identity tag details are up to date! Check them now, so that you have enough time to alter them if your phone number or address has changed recently.
We want to acclimatise our dogs to the sounds as early as possible in the year, so that it isn’t such a scary thing when they are heard on the night. This can be done with fireworks CDs played quietly enough that they don’t stress out or startle your dogs. Over the course of the coming weeks slowly increase the sound one click at a time without your dog noticing.
Set up a “den” that is in the most sound insulated part of the house. This could just be a bed with a blanket over it between two chairs, or could be their bedtime crate with a bit of padding as sound proofing.
Do not be offended if they do not use it when they are stressed, they are doing what makes them feel better.
Look into Adaptil and Pet Remedy sprays and diffusers to put in your house before you need it.
Begin walking your dogs before dusk so they are used to it before the first of November. I say the first because fireworks night has become more of a season than a singular event, and small spates of fireworks will invariably begin a few days before the actual day and continue until after New Years Day. We don’t want to waste all of our hard work because we’ve been caught out before fireworks season even starts!
Ensure your garden and house are completely secure. Terrified dogs are adept at fitting themselves through the smallest of spaces, so in case your dog slips out of your door, make sure they can’t get out and onto the roads.
Check with your neighbours and your local community sites to find out when firework displays are happening near you. Please do not take your dog to a fireworks display, shut them outside or tie them up while you see one. If at all possible, be at home with them or find someone to house sit for you if you are going out for a local display to prevent higher levels of stress and anxiety.
If your dog isn’t cowering or crying, it does not automatically mean they are not scared! There are many less obvious signs of fear and stress in dogs and some of these include: lip licking, drooling, ‘slinking’ around, panting, not wanting to eat food, ears back, tail tucked between their legs, showing the whites of their eyes, pacing and trying to find a small space to squeeze themselves into.
Please do not ignore your dog if they come to you during the fireworks, they are already scared and your withdrawal of comfort can confuse them even more. Act as normal and happy as you can to show them that there is nothing to be afraid of and praise for calm behaviour.
ON THE NIGHT
Make sure all of your windows, curtains and doors are shut to shut out as much sound as you can. Be mindful of locking your cat flaps and doggy doors too, as fear can make them want to escape.
Don’t forget to have your Adaptil or Pet Remedy sprayed around the house and diffuser on to create a relaxing smelling environment. As we already know, our dogs may not eat if they are stressed, so making sure that they’ve eaten dinner well in advance of fireworks is a good idea. If your dog is known to stress vomit, then perhaps split dinner into two half-meals and give lunch as well as dinner to give it the opportunity to go down. Panting can cause a dog to become thirsty, so make sure that they have access to plenty of water, but monitor their intake to avoid gulping. If you have to open an outer door, make sure your dog is secured to prevent bolting. Have background noise to distract them! Have the radio or TV on, and when they are calmer then try to play or give them treats to distract them. They will learn that being calmer means fun time!