Remember, remember the 5th of November… for some dog owners, the beginning of November is a time of year they dread, because their dog is so scared of the unpredictable bangs from fireworks. Guy Fawkes Night can be incredibly stressful and challenging for both pet and owner, so here is our advice to help your pooch stay relaxed and worry-free during fireworks night.
Stay In The Know
Research where and when there will be firework displays around bonfire night so you can plan ahead. You can ask your neighbours or in local businesses, look at notice boards or on local Facebook groups. Mark these in your calendar and set an alert on your phone at least 10 minutes before they are due to start so you can prepare yourself to minimise the impact on your dog.
Once you know when your local fireworks displays will be, you can be more prepared. If you live in close proximity to a local firework display, consider what that means for your dog.
If you know they stress your dog out, you may want to think about taking them away from the situation for the duration of the display. Try to find somewhere dog-friendly away from any fireworks, or ask your friends and family if you could come over for the evening with your dog.
If your dog doesn’t like fireworks, but doesn’t get overly stressed, make sure you have something to distract them. Give them plenty of exercise during the day so they are tired in the evening and less likely to be bothered by the noise. If you usually walk after dark and are unable to take them earlier, why not have someone else walk them during the day?
Of course, if you know your dog has never been bothered by fireworks, you don’t need to worry so much - although it's always worth keeping an eye on them for any signs of distress.
Before the fireworks begin, ensure all windows and curtains are closed, and pick the quietest room in the house for your dog. Try to do this each night around the same time during the week, so it becomes routine for your dog and doesn’t make them suspicious - the primary objective is to keep things as normal at home for them as possible.
Recognise Their Stress
Being able to recognise the signs of distress will help you know what your dog needs from you. Look out for these symptoms:
- Trembling and shaking
- Clinging to owners
- Excessive barking
- Cowering and hiding behind furniture
- Trying to run away
- Going to the toilet in the house
- Pacing and panting
- Refusing to eat
- Destructive behaviour (chewing furniture etc.)
Don’t Fuss Over Them
It can be incredibly tempting to offer your dog extra attention and comfort on fireworks night, especially when they are visibly nervous or stressed, but you may be making their discomfort worse, confirming their instinct that they should be scared.
The best thing you can do for your dog is to stay at home if you can, and behave normally. Remain in the room with them, but don’t offer them any more attention than you would on any other evening. If you are acting out of character, your dog will pick up on it, so completely ignore the fireworks while they are going off, but also try to stay relaxed before they are due to be set off.
You can take your dog’s mind off the fireworks and enforce positive association with the sound of fireworks by giving your dog something fun to do. This can be playing with their favourite toy, or feeding a high-reward treat that they love. Even better, make them work for their treat by doing some training or using a puzzle. Not only will this likely distract them from the noise, but may help their relationship with them. Our low calorie Caboodle training treats are brilliant for hiding in Kongs, or puzzle games, or simply to give when the firework goes bang (!) to create a positive association. You could also spread Caboodle’s wet food onto a lickimat and freeze it and bring it out just before the display starts as this will not only distract but also take longer than normal for them to eat.
This is particularly good for young dogs who haven’t yet experienced fireworks, but is also great for older dogs who already know they are scared of fireworks. If they are not interested in the game or treats, don’t force them to play or eat.
A dental chew - like the ones in your Caboodle can also help distract your dog from the noises around them.
You can also use the radio or TV on a quiet station or show to drown out the sound of the fireworks outside. A popular option is classical music - in fact Classic FM normally do a firework night dog chillout session with music designed to help our four-legged friends stay calm.
If you want to have a fireworks display, but want to reduce potential stress for animals in the area, try silent fireworks! Enjoy the aesthetics with none of the bang. You can buy quiet fireworks from (please note, we are not affiliated with any of these fireworks):
Some supermarkets, like ASDA, have pet-friendly fireworks, too!