Clarendon Street Vets’ explain how to prepare your dog for firework season
October 7, 2021
Fireworks are no longer only heard on Bonfire night, but are a common feature at parties and weddings all year round. Unfortunately for our pets, the sudden, unfamiliar and extremely loud noise of a firework display can cause significant distress.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to help most stressed dogs (and other pets) is to think about using pheromone sprays and diffusers. These are a synthetic version of communication chemicals that mammals naturally produce, and can help a pet to feel secure and relaxed at times of heightened stress.
There are other things you can do to prepare you pet for firework season. Creating a ‘den’ for your dog with familiar smelling blankets and toys (adding your own unwashed clothing can be comforting) gives him or her somewhere to retreat to if the bangs and flashes are too scary. Making sure curtains windows and doors are shut when it gets noisy outside is a good idea too. You can also play loudish music or put the TV or radio on near your dogs den to mask the unfamiliar sounds.
If you’re looking for a long-term solution to help your dog deal with sudden noises like fireworks, it might be worth looking at desensitisation training for dogs. This is especially effective for young puppies, who are learning lots about the world around them, meaning you can get them used to fireworks before they become an issue.
Before you start you will need;
- A quiet space – You’ll need to introduce your dog to this calm place a few weeks before you begin the training.
- Example noises – Audio recordings of fireworks and other loud noises are available online.
- Treats – A selection of your pet’s favourite treats and toys.
- Time – This process takes two or three half hour (approx.) sessions over several weeks.
Then follow the process below;
- Play the example noises quietly – In their calm place, play the noises you are using at a low level so that your pet either doesn’t respond at all, or just turns towards the source. Do this for periods of up to 30 seconds.
- Reward good behaviour – After each reaction, give them a tiny piece of their favourite food, about the size of a pea.
- Slowly increase the noise – Once they stop reacting to the loud sounds and do other things while the sounds are playing, slowly (session by session) increase the volume. With each increase in volume give your dog up to 30 seconds to get used to the new level and continue to offer the treats after each noise.
- Vary the volume – After two or three sessions (assuming your dog is reacting well), start to vary the volume. There should be a general increasing trend, but make the volume lower as well as higher, as this will give you a longer lasting and generally more effective response.
- Take your time – Take it easy and don’t rush the process. Like all of the most effective training, it takes time and regular practice to get the response you want to loud noises. Repeating the training every now and then will help too.
As ever, if you need any help, you can always contact our 28 Clarendon Street practice on 01223 359021 to discuss your dog’s particular needs. In some cases calming supplements or medication may be required short term, and if your dog is particularly phobic it may be worth getting in touch with a qualified local behaviourist for some longer term help.