How to help your dog cope with fireworks

Did you know that an adult dog’s hearing is around four times more sensitive than a human? It’s natural for dogs to be afraid of loud and unexpected noises. Barking or running away from loud noises is part of a dog’s survival instinct, but a whole night of loud noises that are (in your dog’s eyes) completely out the blue can be upsetting for your dog. Here are our top 5 tips to help your dog cope with fireworks...

1. Preparation

If your dog is a ‘hider’, it’s a good idea to prepare a den for them to escape to, include their favourite blanket, toys and something to chew. Chewing releases endorphins and other hormones in a dog that can calm them down and help them to cope with stressful situations.

Before it gets dark make sure you let your dog out to go to the toilet. If they have a known fear of fireworks be careful to do this long before the first firework goes off.

Some people find that playing a recording of fireworks (at normal TV volume) for a short while every evening a few weeks in advance helps your dog to familiarise themselves with the sounds. This could help your dog to cope much better when it comes to the real deal.

2. Distraction

If your dog is a ‘barker’ when it comes to loud noises then it’s a good idea to have a host of distraction toys and techniques to hand. You could try:

  • Their favourite ball and a game of fetch
  • An irresistible chew bone
  • A game of hide and seek with treats
  • A treat dispensing toy such as a Kong, which dispenses treats as they play and will keep their mind elsewhere 

The key to success here is not to try anything new on the night. A good distraction technique is one that distracts them with something they already know, love and find irresistible.

3. Background noise

Adding in some background noises such as the tv or some music will stop the noise from the fireworks from seeming so sudden. Not too loud, just at the same volume as you’d usually listen to the TV at. A bang from silence is much more startling than one in a room with a good amount of background noise.

4. Comfort

If your dog seems fidgety and uninterested in hiding or playing, then try popping on the tv to reduce the impact of the noise outside and sitting on the floor or couch with your dog. Sometimes a cuddle on your lap is all that is needed for a dog to feel at ease with something unfamiliar to them.

5. Stay relaxed

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, try to stay relaxed yourself. It isn’t nice to see your dog upset but you’d be surprised how much a dog’s behaviour is affected by how they read yours. If they sense that you are anxious they will automatically become more anxious themselves.

If your dog seems to have an extreme reaction to fireworks and nothing you seem to do is helping, please do see your vet.