With firework season set to whizz-pop into our lives again with the approach of Halloween, Diwali and Bonfire Night, Dogs Trust is issuing advice to dog owners to help pets who might be scared by the unexpected bangs and bursts of fireworks.
Jenna Kiddie, Head of Canine Behaviour at Dogs Trust says: “Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying and confusing experience for them. Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing and have a lasting impact on dogs.
“There are lots of things dog owners can do to help make fireworks less stressful for their dogs. Simple steps such as providing safe spaces for them to hide or settling them before the fireworks start can make a big difference.
“We would also urge anyone thinking of putting on their own fireworks display to consider the welfare of their four-legged friends and others in the neighbourhood by following our Firework Dog Code.”
Here are Dogs Trust’s top tips –
- Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is exercised and has had a toilet break well before any fireworks could start.
- Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
- Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks, as some dogs may try to run away if they’re scared.
- Provide a safe hiding place – make sure your dog has somewhere safe in their favourite room, for example a comfy bed under a table with blankets to make it cosy and help with soundproofing. Close the curtains, turn lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to mask the firework noises.
- Keeping your dog busy indoors can help take their mind off the noise. Play games or practise some reward-based training.
- Comfort and reassure your dog. Try to remain calm yourself and avoid telling your dog off as this might make them more worried.
- If your dog just wants to hide away then don’t force them to come out of their hiding place, allow them to stay where they feel safe.
If you are planning a firework display at home, please consider:
- Letting your neighbours know well in advance, so they can prepare their dogs.
- Limiting your display to 30 minutes or less.
- Opting for quieter, lower decibel fireworks.
Jenna adds: “For those who have welcomed a puppy into their life recently, we also have free sound therapy programmes on our website that can help to gradually expose puppies to different noises in a positive way, so they perceive them as normal.
“If your dog is very worried by fireworks or other loud noises, they might need longer-term treatment. If that is the case, it would be a good idea for owners to have a chat with their vet. They can check there are no underlying health conditions that might be affecting behaviour, and then owners can discuss referral to an accredited behaviourist for support and tailored advice.”
For further advice about preventing and dealing with fear of loud noises such as fireworks, please visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/fireworks