November 5th is Guy Fawkes Night! It’s also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night. It’s a commemoration of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot way back in 1605.
That was over 400 years ago now, but the holiday is still around. We set off fireworks, have parades and bonfires, there’s food and festivities.
This is all very exciting for us humans, but your dog might not be as excited.
Fireworks are loud and can be scary. They don’t understand that they’re just loud and not going to hurt them.
It can be a stressful time for them. So, before you go out to celebrate, you need to take care of your canine companion.
There are many things you can do to help them weather those bright lights in the sky that so many of us enjoy. Fireworks don’t have to be a negative experience for your dog.
With a little bit of thought and preparation, the night can be easy and fun for everyone involved.
Keep Your Dog Away from Fireworks
This one seems obvious, but sometimes we can forget in our excitement.
If you want to go to a firework show, don’t take your dog with you.
We know it can be tempting. There’s lots of people around. It’s usually in an open field somewhere. There’s food and music.
It might all be things your dog loves too, but for their safety and wellbeing, it’s best they don’t go.
Create a Safe Place Away from Fireworks
Being at home in a familiar space can be a huge source of comfort for your dog. It’s a familiar area with all of their belongings and their people.
There are some things you can do to make it more cosy and to make them feel more secure though.
Make a Quiet Room
Utilise a room in your house that’s away from windows and other commotion.
This could be a laundry room, bathroom, basement or even a closet. Dogs are den animals and will look for a place to hide when they’re stressed out.
Has your dog ever hidden under the dining room table or up in your bedroom during a storm or other stressful event? That’s why.
You can utilise this and give them a designated space. So, if your dog likes to hide in a certain bedroom or other room of the house, that can be their quiet space during the fireworks.
Offer them distractions such as puzzle bowls and snuffle mats. You can offer toys and small treats if they’ll take them.
If they have a favourite bed or blanket, they can have that as well. You want to make sure they’re comfortable and surrounded with familiar things.
Many of us use white noise to help us sleep at night. It can drown out unwanted noises from the outside world and have a calming effect.
You may have to experiment with this a little bit to find what works for your dog since there are a variety of items that can be used for white noise.
The T.V can be a good source of white noise. Your dog is used to it being on, but they don’t actually watch it. It’s background noise to them.
Fans are another good option. A lot of us use them as white noise while sleeping for their ability to drown out things like cars and noisy neighbours.
A radio or other device that can play music would work as well. Choose something calming such as classical music for your dog.
There are also white noise machines whose specific purpose is to create calming sounds. You could give one of those a try as well.
Use Their Crate
A lot of dogs find their crate a safe and welcoming space. This makes it great for stressful situations.
You can put it in their quiet room or leave it where it is. It depends on your dog’s needs.
Drape a blanket over it to make it feel secluded and offer them a snuffle mat, chew or other toy stuffed with treats.
Whatever you choose to offer them, make sure it is of very high value and can be used as a good distraction once the fireworks get going.
Sit with Them
You are one of the biggest sources of comfort your dog has. They look to you for guidance, especially in situations that cause them uncertainty.
If you hang out with them and stay calm, they are a lot less likely to get stressed out.
Make it a point to sit with them and do normal activities.
You can watch television, work on a hobby or anything else you would normally do nearby.
They’ll see you being unbothered and be a lot less likely to get worked-up.
You can also sit with them and offer them comfort, but remember to watch your tone and volume. You need to remain soothing and quiet.
Walk them Before the Fireworks
Head out on a long walk. Go for a run. Play games in the backyard for a while.
The whole point is to get active and wear your dog out before the fireworks stop.
It’s hard to be anxious when you're exhausted and the same goes for your dog. Plan it right and they may even sleep through part of or all of the fireworks.
Desensitise Your Dog to 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 About Fireworks
As always, 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.
Fireworks are an exciting event for friends and family, but we do need to keep the needs of our canine companions in mind.
They may not always enjoy the things we do.
Thankfully, you’re there to help them and we’re here to help you. We want you all to have a fun and safe holiday.
Do you have any tips and tricks for dealing with fireworks that we missed?
Come tell us about it on our social media pages. We’re always waiting to hear from you!
FAQs: Dogs and Fireworks
Why are fireworks problematic for dogs?
Fireworks are loud and unpredictable, which can be scary for dogs. They don't understand the nature of these sounds and might perceive them as threats. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety for your canine companion.
What's the importance of creating a safe and quiet space for my dog during fireworks?
Dogs, being den animals, naturally seek a safe and secluded place when they're stressed or frightened. By providing a quiet and safe space, you're offering them a familiar and comforting environment that can help reduce their anxiety during the loud fireworks.
Can playing firework sounds in advance really help my dog get used to them?
Yes, this process is known as desensitisation and counterconditioning. By gradually introducing firework sounds at a low volume and associating them with positive experiences like treats or toys, many dogs can learn to tolerate or even ignore the noise. However, it's important to ensure that the process doesn't stress your dog, and seeking guidance from a professional might be beneficial.
How can white noise benefit my dog during fireworks?
White noise works by masking or drowning out sudden and jarring noises, like fireworks, with consistent and calming background sounds. This can help reduce the intensity of the firework sounds, making them less startling and helping to keep your dog calm.
What if none of these methods work and my dog remains anxious?
If you've tried multiple strategies and your dog still shows signs of significant distress, it's best to consult with your veterinarian. They can offer personalised advice, recommend anxiety medications, or even suggest alternative solutions that might be more effective for your specific dog.