Dogs and Fireworks - How To Keep Them Safe

Dogs and Fireworks - How To Keep Them Safe

Why do fireworks scare dogs?

Fireworks can be frightening to dogs because of the loud bangs, the flashing lights and unpleasant strong smell of spent explosives. With multiple bangs occurring from numerous displays, dogs will rarely be able to pinpoint where the booming explosions are coming from. Not knowing what an explosion is, where it’s coming from, or where and when the next one is going to must be truly terrifying for some dogs.

Are fireworks too loud for dogs?

Dogs are renowned for having an incredible sense of smell, but their hearing is remarkable too. Dogs can hear sounds that are four times further away than we can, and they can also detect significantly higher frequencies. A dog’s acute sense of hearing means that loud noises that are tolerable to us might be uncomfortable and unpleasant to them.

Can dogs be traumatized by fireworks?

It’s natural for a dog to be wary of loud noises, particularly if they don’t know what the noise is, or where it’s coming from. Evolution has hard-wired dogs with incredible survival instincts, and loud unexpected noises can trigger a fight-or-flight response. Your dog’s reaction to loud noises is largely determined by their personality and past experiences. If your dog was scared by fireworks once, then chances are, they will remember it and be scared again.

Are some dogs more scared of fireworks than others?

Noise aversion can be influenced, to some degree, by breed, age and sex. Even the way your dog reacts to loud sounds could be partly controlled by their genetics, with research showing that German Shepherd Dogs are more likely to pace when stressed, while Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs are more likely to hide.

Check your microchipping details

Early October is a particularly good time of year to make sure that your dog's microchip details are up to date and that they are wearing a collar and ID tag. If you think there's going to be fireworks going off near you, and you know your microchip details are not up to date, it’s important to get them corrected as soon as possible.

Dogs can react very badly to the unfamiliar sights and sounds of fireworks. It can never be stressed enough how important it is to make sure your details are kept up to date. It’s far too common that microchips have incorrect owner details, meaning that if a pet goes missing many dogs may not be able to be returned to their owners.

Research fireworks displays near you

Check where and when fireworks displays are being held in your local area, so that you know when to expect fireworks. Also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning any unofficial displays of their own to help you prepare.

How to prepare your dog for fireworks in advance

In the weeks or even months leading up to 'fireworks season' you can help your dog become used to loud noises by acclimatising them to the sound of fireworks. There are many noise CDs on the market and plenty of downloadable content.

Warning: If your pet is severely noise phobic, sound CDs or playlists may make the situation worse, and it may be a good idea to speak to an experienced animal behaviourist.

Before the fireworks begin - helping your dog cope

  • Top up your dog’s water bowl. Anxious dogs pant more and become thirsty.
  • Feed your dog a while before you expect any disturbances. Once the fireworks start, your dog may be too anxious to eat.
  • Walk your dog before dusk. It may be some time before it’s safe for your dog to venture outside and relieve themselves.
  • Always make sure that your garden is escape proof just in case a firework goes off when you take them into the garden to go to the toilet.
  • Make sure you shut all doors and windows in your home and don’t forget to draw the curtains. This will block out any scary flashes of light and reduce the noise level of fireworks. Don’t forget to block off cat flaps to stop dogs (and cats) escaping.
  • Make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if they feel scared. You could drape a thick duvet over the top of it to make it more soundproof, but make sure that the duvet is secure and can't fall on to your dog. Fill the den with their favourite blankets, toys, or an item of unwashed clothing to help them feel more secure.
  • If your dog has been very scared of fireworks before then talk to your vet about possible medications or products that can help reduce your dog's anxiety.

How do I calm my dogs down during fireworks?

  • Distract your dog from the noise by having the TV or the radio switched on. If you're going to play music loudly, then make sure it's music that your dog is familiar with and has heard you play before. You don't want your dog to link their fear of fireworks with a new type of music.
  • Try to act and behave as normal, as your dog will pick up on any odd behaviour. Remain calm, happy, and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog.
  • Your dog might choose to hide under the bed or behind furniture; if they come to you for comfort, make sure that you give it to them. Ignoring your dog would only make things worse as they wouldn’t understand your withdrawal from them.
  • Always reward calm behaviour with dog treats or playing.
  • Never try to force your dog to face their fears – they’ll just become more frightened.
  • Never try and tempt them out if they do retreat, as this may cause more stress.
  • Never tell your dog off. This will only make your pet more distressed. It is important to remember that it is natural for a dog to be scared of loud noises and unfamiliar sights and sounds.
  • If you need to open the front door, shut your dog safely inside a room first.

Can dogs go to fireworks displays?

Never take your dog to a firework display, even if your dog does not bark or whimper, don’t assume they're happy. Excessive yawning and panting can indicate that your dog is stressed

Also, never tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.

Oct 21 2022
by Claire