How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

Words: Robyn Samuels

There’s nothing more magical than watching fireworks light up the night sky, that’s if you’re not a dog or dog owner. Apart from the rolling sound of thunder and startling noises, a major trigger for dogs are fireworks. You may notice your dog become visibly anxious or stressed on holidays when fireworks are used, like on Guy Fawkes Day or New Year’s Eve. Here are a couple of tips for keeping your dog calm during fireworks.

Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?

If you’re a dog owner, fireworks might be concerning to you, and you’ve probably wondered why dogs are scared of fireworks.

Dogs perceive fireworks and loud noises as warning signals, causing them to bark at the commotion.Fireworks activate their flight or fight response, which can induce anxiety, stress and unusual behaviour.

While dog owners can’t do much besides warn people about the dangers of fireworks, there are ways to help pets. Here’s how to keep your dog calm during firework displays.

1. Take your Dog for a Walk

One of the best ways to reduce excess energy or anxiety is to ensure your dog gets enough playtime. Taking them for a long walk might help, it’s important you do this at an appropriate time, before the fireworks begin. If you are driving to a destination, the best time would be before it gets dark; give yourself a good window period for travel time. Driving while fireworks go off could make your dog feel trapped and anxious.

Try visiting one of these dog-friendly beaches and lakes in Cape Town.

2. Give that Dog a Bone

The reality is that dogs might never get used to the fireworks, the best thing that we as owners can do is provide them with affection and relief.  There are tons of engaging pet toys on the market, it’s time to retire the old ball and stick. Try getting your fur-baby a puzzle, cognitive toy or chew-proof KONG toy, filled with dog-friendly treats like peanut butter or iced water for mental stimulation.

Distraction is also a helpful tool, provide your dog with a large bone or dog-proof chew toy to grab their attention.

3. Desensitise your Dog to Loud Noises

If your dog is perturbed by the booming of fireworks, it might help to desensitise them to loud noises by either playing music or turning the telly on and increasing the volume. This might help displace their focus and distract them from the fireworks.

4. Closed Curtains

Apart from the startling noises of fireworks, the light they emit might also be anxiety-inducing for dogs. Some dog owners might benefit from drawing the blinds or curtains close.

5. Dog-proof All Points of Entry

If anxious or riled up, your dog might feel the need to run away and investigate loud noises. In this case, it’s recommended that you make sure there aren’t any alternative points of exit in your home that your dog could use to escape.

Dogs are on high alert when fireworks go off, causing their fight or flight mode to kick in. Since there’s no imminent threat, this could lead to dogs running away to investigate the source of the noise.

6. Update the Contact Info on your Dog’s Tag

Any dog owner that has experienced the misfortune of having to search for a lost dog will know that it’s a terrible pain. Sadly, an uptick in lost dogs is normally reported during fireworks seasons like New Year’s Eve and Guy Fawkes. In the event that your dog is lost, it’s always useful to make sure that they have a tag with your contact details on it.

Ensure the information on the tag is correct. Alternatively, make sure that they are microchipped – it’s a fast and relatively inexpensive way to ensure that you will be reunited with your pooch.

7. Create a Safe Space

Creating a safe and comfortable space could help calm your dog during fireworks. Prepare a corner or their favourite spot in your home with blankets, cushions or their bed – whatever they find comforting. Another useful trick might be to get them situated under a table and cover it with a blanket, but make sure that they aren’t confined. Restricted movement might worsen their anxiety or cause further distress, and they could potentially injure themselves.

8. CBD Treats for Dogs

You could feed CBD-infused treats to help calm your dog during fireworks, or even if your dog has chronic anxiety. Remember to consult your vet, especially if your dog has underlying health issues. Pet Heaven has a couple of CBD products for pets – always do your research and check the recommended dosage for your dog.

9. Rubbing Bellies & Ears

No pooch can resist a good belly rub. Your dog might also enjoy having its ears rubbed, as they contain many nerve endings which are stimulated during massages. The soothing action releases endorphins, while activating the parasympathetic nervous system – this has a calming effect on them. Gently hold the ear between two fingers and rub on either side.

If your dog displays marks of unusual behaviour and severe anxiety, it might be worth consulting a veterinarian to calm them down during the fireworks.

Ever wondered what human foods your pooch can eat? Get clued up on these 20 Human Foods Your Dog Can & Can’t Eat.

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