It’s that time of year where friends and families gather. We celebrate with food, gifts, music, and a lot of us enjoy fireworks. But, how do you comfort a dog scared of fireworks?
Fireworks are harmless fun for us, but our dogs don’t understand them the same way we do. All they hear are the loud, scary noises. Some dogs may also be afraid of the flashing lights.
No one wants their dog to be stressed during the holiday season, but thankfully there are some things you can do to provide them comfort.
It may not be perfect, but you can help a dog who is scared of fireworks.
We’ll take a look at some of those things below. Most of them can be done at home with things you already have!
Create a Space for your Dog Scared of Fireworks, Away from the Noise
Be sure to keep your dog indoors and in a safe, familiar area during any firework shows whether they be public or something put on by a family member.
Being in familiar surroundings will help to keep them calm.
Use Their Crate
If you’ve been crate training your dog, they already associate it with comfort and security.
You may even see them retreating to their crate when they get overwhelmed or want to rest for a little while. That’s their safe space and most dogs will use it as long as they’re accustomed to it.
You can also drape a sheet or blanket over it to make it feel a little more closed off and secure.
Some dogs may also respond well to being given something like a snuffle mat or Fenrir Hammer as a distraction. Whatever you decide to offer, make sure it’s of high value. This will make it more likely that your dog will focus on this item, rather than the noise outside.
Create a Quiet Room
A room in your house that is away from fireworks or other commotion, can make a great getaway area for your dog during stressful events.
If the room does have windows, make sure you close the blinds and curtains to block out some of the light. You can also tack a dark coloured sheet up if you don’t have curtains.
It will help block out any light that may scare your dog.
You can combine this idea with their crate to make the space feel even more comfortable and secure for them.
If you notice your dog prefers a certain bedroom, office, or closet-like area of your home, you can make that their designated quiet area.
Make sure they have their favourite bed, blanket, and toys. Anything that brings them comfort is more than welcomed.
Just be careful. Some dogs will chew and tear things up when they get stressed. If you have one of these dogs, be mindful about what you provide.
Just like before, treats in the form of a puzzle bowl, snuffle mat, or other toy are a great idea to help keep your dog distracted from the fireworks and other noise happening.
Most of us are familiar with white noise. A lot of us use it to help us sleep.
Whether it’s a dedicated white noise machine, a T.V, or a fan, they can all help.
This also goes for when you’re trying to keep your dog calm and settled during festivities.
If your dog is used to the T.V. or radio being on, try one of those. It’s something that’s normal in your household and your dog may find it comforting
Sit With Them
You are the biggest source of comfort for your dog. They look to you for guidance especially when they’re stressed.
So, if you aren’t invested in going to the fireworks show yourself or you like to stay indoors, your dog can benefit from your presence.
You don’t want to make a big deal out of things. Go about your normal business and let your dog see that there is nothing going on that is worth getting worked-up over.
Watch your favourite show, work on a project or hobby, or even get some chores done around the house.
You can also have your dog sit with you and offer them some pets and scratches. Just be sure to keep your voice calm and quiet if you decide to talk to them at all. You don’t want to get them worked-up.
Your dog will pick up on your calm nature and feel safer about things.
Offer Chews and Treats
We’ve mentioned this a couple of times already, but that’s because it can make a big difference.
Fill a snuffle mat full of their favourite treats and let them take their time picking them out.
Try a puzzle bowl. You can fill it with treats, kibble, or wet food. If you fill it with wet food, consider popping it in the freezer for thirty minutes. It’ll last longer and be a better distraction as your dog really has to work for their treat.
Fill and freeze a Fenrir Hammer or Dragon Egg. You can stuff them with a combination of wet and dry food to keep it more interesting. Just make sure you freeze for at least thirty minutes before use.
If you know ahead of time, you can make up a treat or two and have them in the freezer the night before so that they’re ready for use.
Walk Your Dog Scared of Fireworks Beforehand to Curb Anxiety
It’s hard to be anxious when you're exhausted. So, if you know there’s going to be a firework show going on, get out and exercise beforehand.
It doesn’t have to be a walk either. Get out for a run. Play fetch or tug-o-war in the backyard.
Whatever gets your dog active and wears them out counts!
Bring them in about thirty minutes before the show starts and give them a chance to relax and settle in. They might even sleep through most of the fireworks.
It will make things much less stressful for them and you.
Make sure you stay nearby though. There’s a chance your dog wakes up and gets scared. You’ll need to be there for comfort and to make sure they don’t accidentally hurt themselves.
Desensitise Your Dog Scared of Fireworks
You may want the help of a professional trainer or vet to help you with this one.
The point isn’t to stress your dog out and if you see signs of stress such as yawning, panting, pacing or hiding, you should stop.
Play some firework sounds that are loud enough for your dog to hear but not loud enough to scare them. Pair the noise with treats, toys and affection.
This process is called counter conditioning. Do it right and you’ll be able to slowly increase the volume of the noise without your dog becoming anxious.
Talk to Your Vet
Sometimes no matter what we do, we need some extra help and that’s okay.
Your vet is your and your dog’s best friend and a great line of defence against a variety of things.
If you’ve tried other things and they just don’t work for your dog; it’s time to talk to your vet.
They can offer anxiety meds, personally tailored advice, and they may even have some ideas you haven't considered.
There’s nothing wrong with talking to your vet about your dog’s anxiety. It can increase their quality of life.
All dogs are different, so it might take some time for you to figure out what works for you and your dog.
Regardless of the fact that your dog is scared of fireworks, you can help them. There are plenty of ways to comfort them with all of the lights and sounds happening outside.
Do you have any other ways to comfort your dog that’s scared of fireworks? Did we miss something that you find helpful?
Come on over to our social media page and share. We’re always happy to hear from you.
What is the best way to create a comfortable space for my dog during fireworks?
Creating a safe and familiar space is key. Use your dog's crate if they are crate-trained, as it's already associated with security and comfort. Cover it with a blanket to create a cosy den-like environment. If they're not crate-trained, choose a quiet room away from the noise, close the blinds, and provide their favourite bed and toys.
Can white noise or music help calm a dog scared of fireworks?
Yes, white noise or calming music can be very effective in masking the sound of fireworks. Familiar sounds like a TV or radio, or even a fan, can provide a sense of normalcy and comfort for your dog.
Should I stay with my dog during fireworks?
Your presence can be a huge comfort to a scared dog. Stay calm and relaxed, engaging in normal activities, as your dog will pick up on your cues. If your dog seeks out your attention, offer gentle reassurance.
How can exercise help my dog cope with fireworks anxiety?
Adequate exercise before the fireworks start can help significantly. A tired dog is more likely to be calm and might even sleep through the noise. Engage in activities like walking, running, or playing fetch to tire them out.
Is it advisable to use treats and toys to distract a dog during fireworks?
Definitely. High-value treats, puzzle toys, or a stuffed Fenrir Hammer or Dragon Egg can provide a distraction and help associate the fireworks with positive experiences. This approach can be part of a broader strategy to desensitise your dog to the sound of fireworks.