Dog trainer’s 10 top tips to keep pets calm during fireworks

We are approaching the time of year when it seems fireworks pop off into our skies every evening. Expert DAN SALLISS offers his tips for keeping your pet calm amid the noisy rockets and bangers

Traumatising: seeing pets scared of fireworks can be stressful for owners, too

With Diwali (the week from November 2) and Bonfire Night (remember, remember, the fifth…) creeping up fast, it is important for us to think about how we can help our dogs stay safe and calm. Anxiety over loud noises and bangs of fireworks affects nearly two-thirds of the dogs in this country.

Through Croydon Companion Dog Club, I have worked with numerous dogs both in the home and within the rescue setting to ensure they become well-mannered and obedient members of the family.

This time of year, we see many dogs who are traumatised by fireworks and also owners who are traumatised by witnessing their dogs in so much distress. I have known dogs to die because of their reaction to fireworks, so it is important for us to educate ourselves as much as possible to ensure we can help our dogs.

Dogs have a natural fight, flight or freeze reaction to situations they find difficult or distressing. As owners, we most commonly see the fight or flight response. All too often I see dogs being walked while fireworks are going off. I can only imagine how they must be feeling.

I want everyone to think about bringing our dogs up like we do our children, with boundaries, praise and helping them to feel safe and secure.

If your dog is fearful of fireworks, there is plenty you can do to support them at this time of year. Better still, we can make a plan to desensitise and train your dog to cope better in the future. I’m not saying every dog can be miraculously “cured”, but most dogs can be improved, or at the very least be supported to be able to cope better.

Here are my 10 top  tips to help your dogs feel safer and help them be more settled:

Don’t walk them in the evenings

Take them out earlier in the day so they are not being made to walk during the loud bangs and bright flashes going off around them randomly.

Avoid letting them in the garden whilst fireworks are going off

This will reduce the risk of flight through or over a fence or gate. This is one of the most common ways dogs get lost during the fireworks and Diwali season.

Turn the television up to drown out the sound of the bangs

Draw your curtains to avoid the bright flashes shining through your windows

Provide your dog with a safe space like a crate that they can go to and hide in

Alternatively, you can create a den somewhere in your home, such as a dining table covered with blankets.

Give them a long-lasting chew

Use a baked knuckle bone or a beef marrow bone as a special treat which will absorb your dog’s attention, distracting them from what’s going on outside. But make sure they are supervised at all times.

Avoid creating too much fuss

Dogs often don’t see things the way we see them. By stroking our dogs and giving them lots of fuss in instances like this, we are effectively telling them it’s okay to be scared. Even though we believe we are helping them through it, as owners, it is far more beneficial for us to act casual and pretend that there is nothing for our beloved dogs to be worried about.

Young dogs should be getting lots of play and fun during this time

With puppies and younger dogs, teach them that fireworks are not something to worry about but in fact means that much more rewarding things are coming such as playtime.

Be a considerate neighbour

Not everyone owns a pet, obviously. Anyone who might be thinking about having a fireworks display in their garden,  please let your neighbours know about your plans, so they can plan for their pets. Better still, go to an organised display and make an evening of it.

Natural calmers and pharmaceutical medications can also help

It is important you get your dog to be seen by a vet before administering any medication.

Here to help: dog trainer Dan Salliss

For more serious cases, you may need to seek help from a behavioural consultant – but try not to leave it too late.

Every dog is different and may need a slightly different programme which may include desensitisation, effective reward, rehabilitation, proofing the training and other supporting factors like sound therapy discs or on smartphone Apps, Tellington Ttouch, body wraps, Bach’s flower or other homoeopathic remedies.

Here at Croydon Companion Dog Club, we are here to help and support dog owners. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Visit our website for more information, or email us at croydondogs@gmail.com


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3 Responses to Dog trainer’s 10 top tips to keep pets calm during fireworks

  1. miapawz says:

    Cats are not keen either.

  2. Fireworks are an absolute nightmare. One of my dogs was badly traumatised walking one evening in October some years back, when suddenly without warning a massive display started an lasted for a good half hour. If you closed your eyes you could have been in Aleppo which was being bombed at that time. I took me twenty minutes to get her back to the car. Now one bang and she starts to panic.
    What we need is strict controls on the days when they are permitted who can buy them and set them off, and permitted times. The problem now is that from now on until February many afternoons and evenings someone will set off a few, and there seems no reason when. We have even had them in the Summer.

  3. Good advice here, thanks IC. And thanks for avoiding canine puns. I know some will say you are barking up the wrong tree but this loyal reader thinks fireworks are for the dogs

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