Bonfire Night: that time of year that pet owners dread. As the night skies explode, our happy dogs rapidly become nervous wrecks; spiralling into a state of fear and anxiety. And, with flashing lights, deafening bangs and the thick scent of sulphur, it is no wonder that fireworks frighten our furry friends. As fireworks are set off at various events and households, our dogs are unable to pinpoint the location of the alarming noises and potential dangers, which further heightens their panic.
While Bonfire Night is just one day in the year, our skies are showered with fireworks from October through to the new year, so knowing how to comfort your dog during fireworks is imperative for their wellbeing.
Not sure where to start? Read on for some top tips to keep your dog calm on Bonfire Night…
Tips to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
Here are some useful steps you can take to minimise your dog’s fear during fireworks!
Particularly during the days leading up to Bonfire Night, it may prove beneficial to play a YouTube video or audio clip of fireworks whilst stroking, grooming or playing with your pup. Be sure that the audio is playing quietly so as to avoid scaring your dog. By playing these sounds at a low volume while bonding with them, your dog will become familiar with, and create positive associations with, the noise of fireworks, thus making the real bangs less frightening on the night.
Walk Before Nightfall
Staying indoors while fireworks displays are taking place is important, even if it means changing the time of your daily dog walk. You should walk your pooch during the daylight, when fireworks are not being set off. Having plenty of exercise and play during the daytime will also ensure your pup is tired by the evening and so may be less reactive and jumpy.
Prepare Your House
One of the main reasons to stay indoors during fireworks displays is because the sound will be less intense for your dog, meaning they will be less frightened. In order to muffle the sound more, it helps to close all windows, doors and curtains.
In doing so, you will also secure all potential exits to ensure your dog can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise. For extra peace of mind, it is worth making sure that your pooch is wearing a dog collar and is also microchipped (with up-to-date details) so that you may be reunited in the worst-case scenario.
Make a Safe Space
Creating a comfortable, safe space in your home is highly important to keep your dog calm during fireworks.
Setting up a den made up of soft blankets, warm bedding, their dog bed and their favourite dog toys will not only be a comforting spot to keep your pup calm, but will also act as a hiding place if they get scared.
TOP TIP: Buy a cave-style dog bed that provides a snug and cosy space for your dog to feel safe and comforted.
The best way to keep your dog distracted from fear is by keeping them stimulated with dog toys – old and new! Spend time playing with your pooch and their dog toys, so they remain focused on playtime rather than the noises outside. Aside from toys, a long-lasting dog chew toy is a great distraction too!
It may help to put some calming TV or music on and turn the volume up so that your dog pays more attention to these gentler sounds than the fireworks outside.
It is crucial that you ignore the fireworks yourself. If you act strangely, your dog will sense something is wrong and may heighten their fear; whereas if your dog can see that fireworks have no effect on you, this may help to decrease their anxiety.
The final and certainly most important tip to help your dog cope during fireworks is for you to be present. Don’t leave them alone while there are loud bangs nearby; continue to comfort, distract and play with them, for being around a person that they love and trust will significantly ease their nerves and fear.