Dogs perceive frequencies almost twice that of human ears, they can also hear sounds approximately four times farther away than humans – what you hear at 20 feet, your dog can hear from 80 feet away. Dogs can also feel sounds as well as hear them and will feel the vibrations of nearby fireworks.
So if you think the fireworks sound loud then it will be far worse for your dog. Fireworks may be great fun for humans but can be terrifying for your dog. Your dog will be calmer if their “pack” is all together so if at all possible try and stay at home and give your dog the support he needs.
Lets go through some of the options to keep your dog safe.
Before Fireworks Night
Acclimatise your dog to noises prior to the big night. There are many noise CDs on the market which give you the opportunity to introduce your dog to a variety of potentially disturbing noises in a controlled manner or visit the Dogs Trust https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets who have some excellent advice and free sound downloads.
If your pet is severely noise phobic seek help from an experienced animal behaviourist as it is possible that sound CDs could make the situation worse.
It might be worth considering buying a Thunder shirt which wraps snugly around the dog providing a sense of safety and security which helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety for some dogs.
Check where and when displays are being held in your local area. Also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning anything.
There are various remedies that can be used to help your dog relax and be calm.
For a natural option you can start in October and sprinkle some dried raspberry leaf on each meal.
Lavender oil is also known as a calming essential oil. We will not cover the full details here but it is worth reading and researching about aromatherapy for dogs. This link would be a good starting place http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/essential-oils-for-scared-dogs/
Diffusers provide a slow release of de-stressing oils / chemicals to provide calming when the body is stressed and anxious. There are also sprays and tablets available for calming. Some recommended options are Bach Rescue Remedy, Adaptil plug-in diffuser and Dorwest Scullcap and Valerian. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions. & if in doubt consult your vet for recommendations.
You must consult your vet if your dog has any health problems or is taking any medication before giving remedies to help him cope with fireworks night.
In case your dog escapes make sure the dog tag on their collar is up to date and easy to read. If they do escape you want to make it as easy as possible for you to be reunited.
Make sure your dog is microchipped and your contact details are up to date, this will ensure you are reunited as quickly as possible if the worst happens and your dog does go missing, since April 2016 it will be a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped.
For further information on compulsory microchipping and to check your contact details are up to date visit www.petlog.org.uk
On the day
Go for a walk
Take your dog out for a super long walk during the day – exercise will take the edge off and help your dog relax and be ready to sleep. Just remember to make sure that the walk is a calm one for your dog so if you have a happy-go-lucky puppy who loves his friends then a group walk would be lovely for them. If your dog finds socialisation stressful then go for a long solitary walk in the countryside. You know your dog best so make sure you are thinking of their needs when you plan your walk.
Make sure you also take your dog out for a quick walk just before dusk as it may be some time before it’s safe to venture outside again for your dog to relieve himself.
Make a Den
Make a safe den for your dog to retreat to if he or she feels scared. Somewhere snug with extra bedding to make them feel secure.
Feed your dog a while before you expect any disturbances, as once the fireworks start your dog may be too anxious to eat.
Top up your dogs water bowl as anxious dogs pant more and get thirsty.
On Fireworks Night
Keep your dog inside
Never leave your dog unattended in the garden or outdoor run. Just because they have not previously escaped does not mean that they can’t – if they are frightened then they can get out of amazingly high or secure fences or small openings. Even the most balanced dog can have a reaction and a scared dog is an amazing escape artist.
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.
Shut your dog safely inside a room before opening the front door.
Create a calm atmosphere
Try not to change routines more than necessary, as this can be stressful for some dogs.
Distract your dog from the noise by staying in the quietest room and have some ambient noise such as the TV or the radio switched on. 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. Reward calm behaviour with doggie treats or playing with toys of interest.
Your dog might choose to hide in his den, under the bed or take refuge under furniture – do not try an tempt him out instead stay nearby and maybe give him an old, unwashed piece of clothing like a woolly jumper so that your dog can smell your scent and feel comfortable. If your dog comes to you for comfort, make sure that you give it to him/her. Ignoring your dog would only make things worse as he or she wouldn’t understand your withdrawal from them.
What NOT to do
Do NOT take your dog to a firework display, even if your dog does not bark or whimper, don’t assume he or she is happy. Excessive yawning and panting can indicate that your dog is stressed.
Do NOT leave any alcohol where your dog might be tempted to imbibe.
Do NOT tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.
Do NOT assume your garden is escape proof. If your dog needs to go out keep him on a lead just in case.
Do NOT leave your dog on his own or in a separate room from you.
Do NOT try to force your dog to face his fears – he’ll just become more frightened.
Do NOT try and tempt your dog out if he does retreat as this may cause more stress.
Do NOT tell your dog off! This will only make your pet more distressed.