It’s that time of year again where for some reason, humans love to look at those sparkly things in the sky that make those awfully loud noises that dogs just don’t like. When it comes to loud noises, our dogs (and some of us too) just really don’t like it. Here are our top 5 tips to help you to help your dog through firework season.
So why do dogs get scared?
If they haven’t been exposed to them in their early life during their socialisation period, loud noises can be a really scary thing for dogs. It’s hard for them to understand what’s going on, and it can be unnerving and cause anxious behaviour.
Tip 1: Get your dog get used to loud bangs
In the weeks and days leading up to nights where you know there’ll be plenty of fireworks, play sounds (just these on YouTube) for your dog to hear. Gradually adjust the volume up and down to help them become desensitised to the noises, and reward with praise and attention (or treats!) when they react well. With some practice, they’ll become less scared and know that fireworks are nothing to be afraid of!
Tip 2: Take an earlier walk together
Head out with your dog earlier in the day at a time when it’s not dark, and unlikely for fireworks to be going off. When you get home, close the curtains to block out the flashing lights and turn the TV or radio on for some background noise to distract from the firework sounds.
Tip 3: Distract your dog from noises with playtime
Give your dog their favourite games and puzzle toys to help take their mind off what’s going on outside, so they’re not so frightened.
Tip 4: Try not to reward anxious behaviour
We know it’s hard, when our dogs are scared all we want to do is to tell them it’s going to be ok and give them all of the hugs in the world. By doing this, it can often make them more nervous as they think this behaviour is what’ll get your attention. Dogs are smart and very aware of our behaviour too, so if you’re appearing anxious or worried your dog can sometimes feed off it too.
Tip 5: Make them their own safe space
Sometimes, we all need a place that makes us feel like we’re totally protected from the world. Make your dog a little den on the sofa, behind the sofa or between two chairs so that if they do get overwhelmed, they have a little retreat to go to and feel enclosed and safe.
Vet advice for especially anxious dogs
If you’re dog’s particularly anxious, you can buy calming aids, calming collars and pheromone diffusers. For excessive anxiety, head to your vet for advice, where they can prescribe medications to help them through the night.
And don’t forget – if your dog’s done a stellar job of dealing with those nasty things that humans seem to love looking at, reward them with plenty of praise, affection and even a treat or two. And remind them, they’re the best dog ever.