Dogs Trust has issued advice to owners on how to take care of their canine friends, ahead of the forthcoming firework season, with almost half of dog owners (49%) reporting that their dog’s wellbeing is affected by fireworks
The UK’s largest dog welfare charity recommends that dog owners prepare early and suggests they stay in during events so that they can help their dogs cope during fireworks.
The charity urges owners to visit its website for full guidance on how to help dogs stay safe and settled during fireworks, which includes:
Be prepared for local firework displays to limit any surprises and to make arrangements so your dog isn’t left alone. Ask neighbours and use social media to find out about upcoming firework events or parties. Prepare your dog’s environment in advance, such as closing curtains, keeping lights and the TV on, and creating a safe space for them to retreat to.
Keep your dog safe
Make sure your house and garden are secure and keep your dog indoors during events.
Adapt your routine
To avoid taking your dog out when fireworks have started, gradually change their routine in the weeks leading up to events. For example, start walking them earlier in the day to allow them time to exercise and toilet before dark.
Recognise the individual needs of your dog
Dogs can react very differently to fireworks. Some appear relaxed and unbothered by the whizzes and bangs; others show signs of anxiety or fear. They may show subtle signs, such as panting or licking their lips, finding somewhere to hide or seeking attention from their human family. Or they may show more obvious signs, such as pacing, barking or even toileting in the house. Whilst these signs can be related to fear of noise, they can also indicate other underlying health problems so please contact your vet for advice if you are concerned.
Enable their preferred response
Some dogs will benefit from having a safe place to retreat to should they feel worried by fireworks, whether or not they have previously shown signs of worry. Introduce this safe place well in advance and encourage them there by building up positive associations with their new ‘den’.
Other dogs will cope best by seeking reassurance, so give them attention and comfort if they seek this out. Some dogs may not seem worried, and its best to keep them occupied with their favourite items or activities so they don’t start to get anxious – experiment before the firework season begins, and slowly introduce them, to find out what they enjoy the most.
Rachel Casey, director of canine behaviour and research at Dogs Trust, said: “With Diwali, Halloween, and Bonfire Night approaching, it’s best to plan well before firework events start to ensure dogs cope as well as possible.
“Fear of fireworks is worryingly common in dogs of all ages, and it can have a significant impact on their wellbeing.”
Ms Casey added: “Dogs respond to fireworks in a range of different ways, so it’s crucial to have a clear plan, ahead of time, to help your own dog cope. Some dogs will want to find a cosy hiding place, others will want reassurance.
“If you dog doesn’t seem worried, it’s worth distracting them with a game or treats to keep their attention away from the noises outside.”
Dogs Trust tips for when the fireworks events have started:
- Close curtains, turn on the lights and the television or some music to help block the outside noise;
- Check on your dog regularly to make sure they are coping. Give them a fuss only if they are coming to you for reassurance; leave them if they choose to hide in their ‘den’;
- Give any prescribed medication in advance of events starting, as directed by your vet;
- Try and stay calm and relaxed yourself; and
- Acknowledge how your dog reacts so you can adjust your plans before the next event.