How to calm your dog during fireworks
Fireworks are stressful for both pets and owners. Add to that the number of pets that escape and go missing and it’s a heart breaking time for many families too. So we’ve updated our tips on how to calm your dog during fireworks, adding a number of pet safety tips to minimise the chance of your pet being lost. Read on for our fireworks safety plan for dogs.
First thing's first. Don't make a fuss about fireworks. In our experience making minimal fuss or ignoring the fireworks means our dog doesn’t stress out. If your dog picks up from you that there is nothing to worry about their stress levels will reduce too. Here are some other things we recommend to calm your dog during fireworks (valid for cats too):
- Stay home
Try and be home with your pets on Guy Fawkes night itself. If you can’t, see if a familiar friend can visit. If also not an option, ensure your dog or cat is secure inside wearing a collar with their identification tag in case they manage to escape.
- Save your money
Don’t have a firework display at home. Imagine how stressful it is for a dog shut away from you knowing you're outside, next to perceived danger. If this isn’t an option, it’s a good idea to have your dog or cat stay elsewhere for the night.
- Keep your pet secure and their contact details updated
Keep your dog secure inside from dusk. If your dog is normally an outside dog, this is the time to make an exception! Make sure you have an ID tag on their collar with your current contact details. Make sure your details are up to date with your local council and The NZ Companion Animal Register (if they have a microchip). If your pet does not have a microchip, get it done. Did you know your pet is three times more likely to be found if chipped and registered!
- Walk them
Get your dog out for a good walk before dark to tire them out, and make sure they’ve been to the toilet plenty of times in case you can’t let them out before bed. If you must take them outside for a toilet stop be sure to pop them on the leash and walk with them. This significantly reduces the risk of bolting.
- Reassure them
If your dog becomes alert to firework noise reassure them it’s OK, but don’t overdo it. Keeping your dog calm during fireworks is easier if you don't make a fuss as they are very attuned to your emotional state.
- Distract them
Distraction can also be a great way to minimise fuss. How about filling a Kong Toy with their favourite treat to keep them occupied, or play their favourite game with them. Distraction is key...especially if they are nervous.
- Couch time
Close the curtains, make some popcorn and settle down with your dog and watch a good movie. Guy Fawkes at our house involves a film turned up loud with popcorn and cuddles on the sofa.
Irritatingly firework season seems to be extending up to a week either side of November 5 so be prepared early. Check local council websites or newspapers for details of large organised displays as these often happen too around Guy Fawkes.
Of course these tips won’t suit every dog, especially those who already have heightened anxiety so if you're concerned about how your dog will cope with fireworks consult your vet.
(First published 2 Nov 2015, updated 29 Oct 2018)