Fireworks and dogs don't mix well. For many dogs, Bonfire Night can be a night of terror. The loud bangs from fireworks can send dogs running for cover or shaking with fear. It's hard to know what to do when your dog is scared of fireworks - but here are 10 tips that might help!
Keep your dog inside while fireworks are going off
This is an obvious one. If you can avoid taking your dog out during fireworks displays, then do try to keep them inside where it's safe and quiet. A scared dog will run, so close those doors and windows, turn the TV and lights on and keep them close to you.
Create a den
Make sure your dog’s bed is in a secluded spot to help them feel safe. A dark and quiet place will help them to stay calm and feel secure. An easy way to do this is to throw a blanket over their crate and add a comfy mat. If they don't have a crate then a blanket over a table and some cushions underneath will work just as well.
Go for a walk before the main event
Try and exercise your dog before dark. This will have two benefits: it'll tire them out so they're more likely to rest through the noise and dogs who are tired often feel less anxious and stressed.
Keep your best friend company
Nobody wants to be left alone when they're scared, and your dog is no different. Try and stay with them (or at least keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour) as much as possible.
Give a calming treat
Chewing and licking have a great calming effect on dogs. Provide them with a long-lasting chew, such as an antler or yak chew, or spread some soft cheese or doggy peanut butter onto a Lickimat to keep them occupied.
Give your dog their dinner early
If dogs are stressed then they won't want their dinner, so offering your dog their meal earlier than usual might help them to eat and calm a nervous stomach!
Try a natural remedy
There are several natural remedies on the market which claim to calm stressed pets. These can contain essential oil blends, such as Pet Remedy or pheromones to send calming messages to your pet’s brain. Other natural supplements such as skullcap and valerian also claim calming effects. Some of these remedies may take a while to have an effect, so keep this in mind.
Keep them busy
Maybe November the 5th is the perfect night for practicing your dog’s repertoire of tricks! Take their mind off the noise outside and keep them mentally stimulated with a training session or some canine enrichment such as a snuffle box or mat.
Have a cuddle
Most dogs feel more reassured when they're close to their owners. If you can, sit down with your dog and give them a cuddle (if they want to of course!). Never shout or reprimand your dog for showing fear or reacting to fireworks, it will just make things worse.
Keep calm and carry on
Remember, keeping calm yourself is important too! Dogs are very good at picking up on your emotions, so try and stay calm if your dog is looking anxious. If dogs can see their humans aren't scared, then they'll be less likely to feel threatened themselves.
If your dog is still scared after trying these tips then speak to a professional.
If you feel that your dog’s anxiety can't be managed at home, then ask your vet for advice on the best way of managing it, possibly through medication or working with a qualified behaviourist.