Tips & tricks to help your dog cope with fireworks (and Halloween)
Fireworks might be fun and pretty for hoomans but many dogs are scared of fireworks.
You will know your dog is scared of fireworks because they may hide, tremble, whine or become very tense. Some even pace about.
These are some tips and tricks on how to help your doggo cope with a very scary experience for them.
1. Sound Training
If your dog is afraid of fireworks, help them cope by playing fireworks sound effects in advance. There are several available online such as these fireworks sounds on YouTube. Play them very softly at first and give your dog treats whilst playing them. Then turn the sound off and stop giving treats.
Repeat the process with the sound at a low level until your dog looks to you expectantly when it starts. Always be sure to check that your dog is comfortable with the sounds and they are not showing any signs of anxiety.
Once your dog is comfortable at that volume, turn up the volume and repeat the process.
2. Schedule a fun event before the fireworks
Take your dog for a lovely long walk or do lots of scentwork training. The dog will have had a good time and be in a relaxed frame of mind. But do be careful not to exhaust them or they may be over-tired and become anxious.
3. Plan your dog's feeding and toileting
If you know what time the fireworks will be, give your dog their food so you can make sure they have eaten and been out to the loo whilst they're relaxed. There’s nothing worse than a dog that’s scared of fireworks and also needs to go out to the loo, but is too terrified to step out the door.
4. Comfort Your Dog
Make sure your dog is in the room with you and sit with them close to you, gently talking to them and stroking them. Your dog will understand that you are there for them and that he can rely on you when they're scared.
5. Get your dog licking
Licking is a self-soothing act for both puppies and dogs that releases the happiness hormones that’ll help them relax. You can get a kong and fill it with your dog's dry food mixed with some natural yogurt or warm water (if you know about Kongs, avoid peanut butter as this will increase blood sugar levels). You can also get a licky mat and put natural yogurt, squeezy cheese or similar onto it to encourage licking.
6. Don't leave your dog alone
If you are going out for fireworks night, try not to leave your dog at home alone. Get someone they know and trust to call in with them or even better stay at home and cuddle up.
7. Consult a Professional
If you are still worried about your dog and fireworks, find a positive trainer to help you and your dog's fireworks anxiety. You can book a session with me too and I can help you.
Remember that your dog’s fireworks anxiety is a visceral response, and it will likely need a multi-step approach to help your dog feel more comfortable with the sounds. Start planning and training immediately!