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Top Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm This Firework Season

Blog Home Oct 23, 2020

There are lots of animals that find fireworks pretty darn scary. But dogs, in particular, do tend to have a really ‘ruff’ time of it.

According to the RSPCA, a whopping 45% of dogs are afraid of fireworks. 

And who can blame them – doggos can hear sounds that are four times further away than humans can, as well as high pitched noises that we can’t even detect! 

Fear of fireworks and other loud noises can often manifest itself as other behavioural problems, such as anxiety, stress or aggression.

As loud disturbances are an often unavoidable part of life, it’s a good idea for pet parents to have a range of tricks up their sleeves to help their pooch remain as chill as possible.

Is your dog scared of fireworks?

If your dog is frightened of fireworks or other loud noises, here are some of the tell-tail signs to look out for:

  • Pacing
  • Excessive panting
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Cowering or hiding
  • Whimpering, whining, howling or barking
  • Tucking their tail between their legs
  • Flattening their ears back against their head
  • Lip licking or drooling
  • Excessive yawning
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Digging

How to Prepare Your Dog for Firework Season

Fur-tunately there are plenty of simple strategies that you can use to help them stay more relaxed…

Walk your dog before it gets dark

Plenty of dogs have been known to get spooked by loud bangs, so take them for a walk before it gets dark and noisy. 

Tiring them out with a longer walk than usual, a run or a vigorous game of fetch will also help them relax during the evening.

Make sure they’re microchipped (and your information is up to date) and have their ID tags on just in case your doggo makes a run for it.

Ideally, feed them a while before any fireworks are set off as well because they might be too stressed to eat later. 

In the run up to the main nights when fireworks will be going off (Bonfire Night and New Years Eve), start to walk and feed them earlier and earlier so it doesn’t feel like a drastic change for them.

Keep your dog inside

To prevent escapes, make sure all doors, cat flaps, and windows are securely locked and that you can keep your dog behind a closed door if someone leaves or enters your home.

Close your curtains and blinds to block out flashes of light and help muffle booms and bangs. Any attempt to soundproof your home will be much appreciated by your pooch. 

Create a safe space where they can hide away

Set up a quiet area just for your dog and offer them a little den to retreat to if it all gets a bit too much – try covering a crate with a blanket or build a pillow fort! 

Once it’s set up, start training your dog in advance of firework season kicking off to associate their new den with positive things. Let them come and go as they please into the den over a few days. In time, your dog will learn that their den is their safe space.

Make it as comfortably and cosy as possible. And remember, familiarity is best. Line their den with anything you know they’ll find comforting, such as their own toys, bedding and blankets.

Check out our guide for more tips on building the perfect pet den here.

Stock up on dog treats

Generously shower your dog’s safe space in yummy treats and chew toys to help distract them. Maybe even buy them a new toy! So many dogs love having a puzzle to figure out or something to work at – maybe try a toy which you can stuff with yummy dog-friendly peanut butter. Even better – stick it in the freezer before giving it to your pooch and with any luck, they’ll be licking away at their new ice cream for ages, oblivious to outside noises.

Calming treats and calming supplements can also work wonders. Itch Calming Treats contain key ingredients Lavender and Camomile. As an added bonus, each treat contains added prebiotics to help aid digestion. Itch Health Calm Capsules help to reduce pet stress and anxiety supporting natural calming pathways. It’s also super easy to give it to your pooch – simply sprinkle the capsule on their food.

Add background noise

Stick on some music or the TV and don’t be afraid to turn it up. Choose some upbeat tunes to mask the loud bangs as opposed to classical or chillout tracks.

Get creative and make some sock earmuffs

Not only will sock earmuffs block out loud noises for your dog, they’re also Instagram gold! 

How do I make doggy sock earmuffs you say? We got you.

How to make sock earmuffs in 3 easy steps:

  1. Find a large, thick sock that you’re not too attached to
  2. Cut off the end of the sock where the toes would meet your foot
  3. Gently place the sock over your pooch’s head so that it covers their ears – voilà, sock ear muffs!

Act normal

If your pooch needs a cuddle, by all means snuggle away but don’t act as if there’s anything to be concerned about. 

Talk to them in a calm, cheery voice, and try casually picking up a toy and playing with it to see if they want to join in – don’t force them though.

If your little mate sees that you’re calm and there’s nothing to be scared of they’ll follow your lead! Nothing to see here.

Try desensitisation

Help your dog become more accustomed to loud noises by gradually acclimatising them to the sound of fireworks in the lead up to firework and party season.

Make sure your dog’s comfortable and relaxed at home when you start this training technique. Begin by playing firework sounds super quietly in the background and giving your dog lots of praise and treats. If they do not become stressed out, gradually increase the volume over the course of a few weeks.

One of the best resources available to help with this is the Sounds Scary therapy pack. This is recommended by both the RSPCA and DogsTrust, and it’s completely free.

Avoid the noise

If you know there will be fireworks displays in your area (or in your neighbour’s back garden) and your dog is having none of it, make the best out of a bad situation and head to a quieter spot for a little vacay! Easier said than done in party season though, particularly around New Year when it feels like almost everyone is celebrating.

What you can do to make fireworks less frightening for all animals

As well as helping your pooch around firework season, there are lots of ways that you can easily help other animals at this time of year…

Only go to organised events

Although organised events may be slightly less popular this year, there may still be some COVID-secure events happening near you.

If you can’t attend an event, try to avoid setting off your own fireworks if you live in a busy residential area. More houses mean more pets – and the closer proximity to all the loud noises could be even more unsettling for animals than normal.

Help owners prepare their pets by only letting off fireworks on the traditional dates

Diwali, Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year are the dates when owners know to expect fireworks. By sticking to these dates, you’re giving owners time to prepare their animals and help them cope.

Buy low-noise fireworks

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but if you ARE hosting a display, try and use fireworks which create less noise.

NEVER set off fireworks near livestock

Frightened animals – especially large ones like horses or cows, can accidentally hurt themselves when startled

Always check bonfires for wildlife before lighting

Unlit bonfires are the perfect cosy habitat for wildlife such as hedgehogs, voles or mice to curl up and hibernate. Give it a check for animals before lighting.

Take your rubbish home with you, and dispose of it properly

Make sure to collect any firework litter after it has cooled down, and dispose of it properly. Firework litter can harm animals if ingested.

We’re here to help

If you have any questions at all, our Customer Service team of pet wellness warriors are here to help! Many of us are dog parents ourselves, so if you need a listening ear and any further advice, we’ll be more than happy to help. We’re available 7 days a week between 8am and 10pm, and you can reach out to us in the following ways:

  • Call 020 3370 0905
  • Email hello@itchpet.com
  • WhatsApp +44(0)7425 347173 
  • Reach out on social media! We’re @itchpet on Insta and Facebook