Whilst the majority of humans like fireworks it is estimated that 80% of owners have lived with a pet that has shown signs of fear or distress related to fireworks.
Because pets only hear fireworks for a limited time each year they do not have the opportunity to become desensitised to the noise and when fireworks are let off it can cause stress not only for pets but for their owners as well.
Animals also have sensitive hearing and loud bangs and whistles can cause them discomfort.
Unfortunately, fireworks are not just set off on 5th November but on New Year’s Eve and at public and private events. If you live close to a venue that regularly lets off fireworks it would be a good idea to ask them politely for a schedule of events involving fireworks and then you can plan accordingly.
This article will give you some tips and advice on how you can reduce the stress caused by fireworks for your pet. It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with this advice as it helps to have everything you need in advance.
The advice given is for single animals. If you have a multi-pet household you will need to take into account the relationship between your pets. Some will share a den/room whilst some will appreciate their own space.
… and remember, when it is all over don’t just open the door and let your pet out. Check their behaviour to satisfy yourself that they are completely settled before allowing them out.
What can you do to help your dog?
In advance of the firework season build your dog a safe haven or den. This should be a quiet area so chose one of the quieter rooms in the house. Many people will create a den by using a dog crate covered with a blanket but a space under a piece of furniture could do the job equally well. The den will become a place where your dog feels in control. Place toys in the den so that your dog associates the den with positive experiences and remember to use a number of toys that you can change regularly so that they don’t get bored. Over time your dog will come to associate his/her den with a place where they feel safe and secure so when the fireworks start they can go in their den.
During the firework season walk your dog during daylight hours.
Ensure that your dogs are inside the house during firework season when fireworks are likely to be set off.
When it goes dark close windows and curtains to muffle the sound and block out the flashing.
If your dog shows signs of stress it is best to ignore them, unless they are likely to harm themselves. We know it is difficult but do not fuss your dog when he/she is scared as this will just cause more problems in the long run.
Put some music on to muffle the sounds of the fireworks.
Never ever shout at or punish your dog for being scared.
Ensure that all doors are closed and take great care if you open a door to the outside in case your dog tries to escape.
Ensure your dog’s microchip details are up to date.
Stay in the same room as the den so that your dog does not feel alone. You could play with a toy and see if your dog wants to come out of the den of their own accord and join in but don’t force them or encourage them.
There are a number of products available which can help with firework phobia. These include pheromone diffusers, tablets and collars. Your vet will be able to offer advice on which product would be most suited to your needs. They may also advise you see a dog behaviourist.