Snap! Crackle! Pop! How to Handle Firework Season
Many people and animals find fireworks very distressing and it can be difficult to know how to help our dogs cope with the atmosphere. Here are some of my top tips to improve your dog’s experience of firework season. Enjoy!
Some dogs are more sensitive than others when it comes down to loud noises. This can be for a number of factors – some breeds are bred to handle disturbances while they work like gun dogs, while others find loud noises to be utterly distressing. Some dogs will have been socialised with noise, and others will have been sheltered from loud experiences growing up.
You can train puppies to become acclimated to loud noises and some older dogs too. There are a number of firework and thunder recordings on YouTube that can help you acclimate your dog to noise-types. Play them very quietly while handing out treats and gradually increase the volume after a few test runs.
Build a positive experience around the sound.
Build a Den
Dogs love dens. This is why crates work so well – they’re a safe, enclosed space just for your dog. Dogs often choose to retire to beds and crates when they want to seek out comfort and relaxation. Some dogs will need a space like this to “weather the storm” of fireworks (or sometimes quite literally if you have a dog afraid of thunder and lightning). Pop a dog-safe peanut butter kong in with them. If hey eat it, this is a great sign. Dogs that are experiencing high-level anxiety will not eat.
TOP TIP: Use a heavy, opaque blanket to cover the crate. This will block out flashes of light and create some sound-proofing. Thick, heavy fabric cannot be chewed through the bars or become a choking hazard. Always supervise your dog when there is a blanket on their crate.
Sweat it Out
Dogs cope better with stress when they have been physically and mentally exercised. As the old saying goes – “a good dog is a tired dog.”
Ensure your dog has had an extra 20-30 minutes of free-running, training or play in preparation for any anxieties that may be brought on by loud noises like fireworks, parties or parades. It can increase their coping mechanisms.
Heavy Metal or Classical?
There is evidence that both music genres can calm pets during firework season. Classic FM has gained huge popularity with pet owners for providing a relaxing atmosphere. Some pets relax to heavy metal, which can cover the loud cracks and snaps of fireworks with a good snare drum! Play any new music quietly at first and gradually increase the volume with rewards in tow.
Keeping lights on can reduce how noticable the outside flashes of light are during fireworks or lightning. Blackout blinds can also be helpful in this department if you’d like to keep your energy bills low.
Day Time Walks
Health and safety first! Some dogs are and sadly will always be afraid of fireworks. In this instance, try to keep all walks during daylight hours and invest in either a piece of turf in a litter tray or puppy pads to give your dog the opportunity to toilet comfortably indoors. For some dogs, fireworks will cause them to bolt. Fear is very disorientating to dogs and can cause them to get lost in the dark in familiar places or bolt from their own home if there is ample opportunity.
TOP TIP: check your garden and outdoor area for escape routes. Replace unstable or rotten fencing or gates before Christmas.
Many people and pet lovers find fireworks distressing. Sign the petition to restrict the selling laws here.
Every signature counts. Thank you!