Is your dog worried about fireworks? Does he drool, refuse to eat, shake, dig or hide? Lots of dogs find firework displays incredibly stressful, but don’t worry. There are several steps you can take to help minimise his distress. It is best to start preparations at least two weeks prior to the event.
Before the Fireworks Start
Create a den that:
- Is as far from the exterior walls of your house as possible.
- Is away from windows (if this is not possible, make sure to at least close your curtains).
- Contains plenty of blankets to burrow in and a worn piece of your clothing.
- Is stocked with toys, chews and water.
- Is easily accessible at all times, so your dog can easily enter and exit without feeling trapped.
It can also be useful to make this den dark, by using a blanket over a crate, or between two chairs. You should ensure that your dog is comfortable in the den, by taking him there a few times each day with his favourite treat.
An Adaptil plug in can also be useful. This works in a similar way to a plug in air freshener but releases a dog appeasing pheromone, which helps to calm and relax your dog. It is advisable to start using this around 2 weeks before the fireworks are likely to start. If a plug in is impractical, Adaptil sprays and collars are also available. To purchase, please give your local Yorkshire Vets surgery a call.
During the Firework Display
If you know that a display will be happening, feed your dog a large meal, 2-3 hours before the display is due to start. You can also add some pasta or mashed potato to the meal. This will help him feel calm and sleepy. As the time of the firework display approaches, the following steps can help to minimise stress.
- Play rhythmic music with a strong beat at a moderately loud, but not uncomfortable volume.
- Make sure that you have closed all of your curtains.
- Play games with your dog, including the use of his favourite treats.
- Take your dog to his hiding place, and encourage him to stay there.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are some do’s and don’ts that we advise you to follow to help your dog through a firework display. Following these is key to not only helping him through the current firework display but also to develop behaviours that will benefit him during future displays.
- Don’t get cross with him when he’s scared. This will only make him more frightened.
- Don’t try to soothe or pacify him. This reinforces the belief that he has something to fear.
- Do ignore him and behave as you would on any other evening. When he relaxes, you can play with him and give him treats as a reward.
- Do check your house is secure, so he can’t escape is he hears a sudden noise.
After the Fireworks
Continue using Adaptil for one week after all displays have finished. This helps to reduce your dog’s anxiety as darkness falls and he expects fireworks to start again.
Long-Term Phobia Prevention
The use of firework audio CDs can help to acclimatise your dog to the sound of fireworks. You can order these by calling your local surgery. Advice on how to use these CDs is provided inside the packaging. For severe firework phobia cases, you should book an appointment with our behaviourist. To do so, give your local surgery a call.
Medication is available, but a veterinary consultation must be booked for advice before a prescription will be provided. Behavioural training methods are better long-term treatments than the use of medication.