Fireworks and thunder storms can be the most difficult time for our pets, especially dogs.
It can be a terrifying experience for them, not only the loud bangs and vibrations but also the bright flashing lights. They do not understand what is happening and it is impossible for us to explain to them.
What To Look For
What are some of the signs that your dog may be worried by noises:
- Any change in their behaviour
- Ears back
- Scratching the door
- Staring at walls
Preparation is key
Building an optimist is key for your dog to be able to stay calm during fireworks and storms. This is best done weeks or even months before firework season and is a very simple technique of pairing every noise you hear throughout the day with a treat. For example the keys jangling, car horns, kids playing, knocking, doorbell, clatter in the kitchen, no matter how big or small, pair it with treats or their daily food so by the time the fireworks arrive or that sudden storm brews your dog is feeling optimistic about noises!
There’s A Game For That
Luckily there are also a few games we can play with our dogs to help them not be so worried by noises and fireworks.
- Noise Box – this is putting all sorts of clean recycling into a container and sprinkling some food in there for them to search and find.
- Bottles Food Dispenser – put some of their food into bottles with holes in them and let them knock them about to get the food out.
- Ten Pin Bowling – place some clean cans and bottles upright and scatter food round them, your dog will be knocking them over as they search for the food.
You may hear me talk about calmness a lot, this is because calmness is so vital for our dogs behaviour, the choices they make, the way they perceive events and also effects their health.
- Ditch the bowl for scatter feeding, kongs, chews, licki mats.
- Play calming games such as boundary games/settle to bed.
- Make sure your dog is getting plenty of rest and naps during the day.
Play DVDs in The Background
While your dog is having a tasty puzzle bowl or kong you can play at really low volume some firework/car/thunder noises on your phone or computer. Youtube will have plenty of options.
During Storms & Firework Season
Can I Comfort My Dog?
Yes, try to stay calm and comfort your dog if they need it. This will not make them more worried, often dogs will seek out owners if frightened so give them a cuddle and a chew and sit with them, have some background noise on for example the tv or radio. Try to get both you and your dog as comfortable as you can. Do not ignore your dog.
Other dogs may want to bury themselves under things or hide away in a corner, so make sure you have a cosy safe space for them to hide away in. A covered crate would be the perfect solution for this.
Other Tips During Firework Season
- Walk your dog during daylight so you do not expose them to fireworks while out on a walk.
- Make sure your house and garden are secure, shut all doors, windows and gates.
- Never force your dog outside during fireworks, make sure they have been to the toilet before hand.
Empty Their Stress Bucket
After fireworks or thunder storms they may still show signs of being stressed even several days afterwards so give them a ‘stress holiday’ and provide lots of calming and relaxing activities such as search and find games, filled kongs, chews. Even a few quiet days in to decompress can do the world or good.