Tips for keeping your dog calm during fireworks

dog firework safetyDog calming tips for pet owners during firework season

While some pups are firework pros and don’t bat an eyelid, others struggle during firework season.

With much more powerful senses and a survival instinct that are second to none, fireworks can feel like a war zone to some canines.

Why are fireworks scary for dogs?

Dogs have a much stronger sense of hearing than humans, so what sounds like a big bang to us is practically eardrum bursting loud for them.

Even without considering the loud bangs, sudden flashing lights and smells of burnt fireworks, the new experience itself can be nerve-wracking for little puppies.

Did you know that dogs can find fireworks so frightening that they get PTSD?

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event. Dogs naturally magazine explained that the “more stressful an experience, the greater the chances for a dog to develop PTSD.”

how to keep dogs calm during fireworksTips to help calm your puppies during fireworks

We’ve put together some tried and tested tips to calm your dogs when fireworks are being let off.

You might find that some of the tips work really well, whereas others don’t make as big of a difference. But it’s worth trying them out to help keep your puppy more relaxed this firework season.

1. Shut all blinds and curtains to block out the flashes

Removing most of the flashing lights can go a long way to ensuring that your puppy is less stressed. In particular, we’d recommend looking for products that are marketed as blackout covers for nursery rooms as they tend to have the most success.

2. Stay relaxed yourself

Making sure you stay calm will help show your dog that there is nothing to fear. They’ll unconsciously look to you for guidance in unsure situations, so when you’re not panicking, they’ll be less likely to worry. 

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3. Set up a place for your pet to escape to

Setting up a small quiet nook for your pet to hide in can help give them a space to feel safe. If you look for places that are at least somewhat hidden. Think under tables, tucked-in corners or underneath chairs.

4. Feed your pet ahead of time

A nervous pet will eat less so make sure that they’ve had enough to eat before the fireworks kick off. Always make sure that they have access to food and water if they need it, but be mindful that they simply might not want it later on.

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5. Make sure someone is home with them

Having someone that they feel safe with at home with them will help ease stress. Ideally, make sure that the person they’ve bonded with the most is readily available.

6. Keep talking in a calm voice

You shouldn’t coax or force your pet to behave normally if they’re frightened. But having a nice calm voice when speaking with them will help show there’s nothing to be afraid of.

7. Don’t overly fuss them

This might seem counterproductive, but overly fussing with them can actually make them more nervous. It’s difficult to see our pets struggling but showering them with fuss can actually help encourage the fearful behaviour. Never just ignore a scared animal, just try not to go overboard. 

8. Play with them if they’re open to it but don’t force them

If your dog is open to playing then it can be a great activity to help distract them. Just be mindful that not all pets will feel this way so don't force it. 

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9. Don’t chastise them for displaying their nerves in ‘negative’ ways

Just like humans, when dogs are afraid, they may display behaviour that’s not typical of them. Some of this behaviour may even be seen sometimes as ‘negative’ or ‘naughty’. Like losing control of their bladder/bowels, scratching at furniture, or barking excessively.

It’s important to remember they’re not acting out on purpose because they’re naughty. This behaviour is because they’re stressed, so never chastise it.

Read our positive puppy training guide
10. Use calming pheromone plugins

There are many products that can release a pacifying pheromone to help keep your pet calm. Some users may need this for ongoing reasons to help with separation anxiety, whereas others may just need it seasonally.

Need tips for dog separation anxiety?
11. Invite another pet over that isn’t afraid of fireworks

If you have another pet or know of another dog that is confident and comfortable during fireworks then consider inviting them over. As long as the animals get on, having a calm dog to keep them company can reinforce that everything really is fine. 

12. Speak with your vet about options

If you’re nervous that your anxious pet will really struggle during firework season, then speak with your vet early about options. They’ll be able to offer professional advice on what you can safely give your pet to make them more comfortable.

13. Distract your pet from noise with the radio or tv

As well as blocking out the flashing lights, it’s a good idea to try to drown out the bangs. Keep your noise source on at a normal level and try to choose something calming (classical music) or something with a steady beat to cover the background noise.

14. Reward calm behaviour

With positive dog training techniques, it’s good to reward good behaviour. Offering your puppy treats or praise when they’ve done something desirable can help encourage them to do it again. The same can be said about keeping calm during fireworks.

15. Take them for a long walk while it’s still light out

It’s good to make sure that dogs have been thoroughly exercised before peak firework time as this helps burn through some of that energy. It means that walking will be a more pleasant experience and that hopefully, they’ll be much calmer and sleepier by the time the fireworks are let off.

Want to read our dog firework safety guide?

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