Many dogs are afraid of fireworks and other loud noises. In some cases, this can cause dogs to cower, lose control and become extremely frightened. Fireworks are not now limited to firework night or any discernible season, and are often used to hail a particular event. Dogs affected by fireworks may try to hide in a particular place where they feel safe and the sound is reduced.
Unfortunately, the impact of fireworks can extend into a year-round problem for your dog. In a process called ‘generalisation,’ dogs may react to sounds that are decreasingly similar to those that scared him or her in the first place. This can tide over into dogs being scared to go out for walks, particularly in the dark, and scratching and gnawing within the home in an attempt to hide.
How can I help my dog when it comes to fireworks?
Some owners take the trouble to construct a ‘safe haven’ for their dog. Whether this is an almost soundproof room (such as a larder or cellar), or a box large enough for the dog to clamber inside, safe havens can be particularly effective. Particularly if you are away from home, your dog may use this haven to hide.
Some veterinary surgeons advise that those dogs who are particularly seriously affected by fireworks and other loud sounds should be given drug support, such as a Dog Appeasing Pheromone, that induce calming. Diet can also have an impact on dog anxiety, so your vet may be able to advise you better when it comes to adjustments.
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If fireworks are going off, what should I do with my dog?
You could stay at home with your dog and offer him or her as much support and comfort as possible, or you could even drive away from the fireworks and return later. Most owners advise keeping dogs indoors, and avoiding taking them to displays. You can close widows and curtains to reduce bangs and flashes, or even keep lights on to avoid flashes being too obvious.
If your dog does not mind music, it could be worth playing music through a stereo to reduce the impact. Keep your dog occupied and relaxed if you possibly can. Give your dog greater attention if it is relaxed – making a big fuss over a dog who is reacting badly can increase its level of fear. Owners should also be aware when it comes to moving a dog who is taking shelter; they can become defensive in this situation.