We are fast approaching firework season and now is the time to think about how fireworks can affect our dogs and other animals. 2020 has been full of uncertainties and changes and it seems most official firework shows have been cancelled this year due to ongoing restrictions, this means there are more likely to be many more home firework displays over the next few weeks.

Making sure you and your pet are prepared in advance will make the firework season a little more bearable for them.

Training – Desensitisation training can be very helpful and can be done at home, start as early as possible. Playing realistic firework sounds on low whilst doing something their dog enjoys such as grooming or playing games or searching for food allows the dog to become used to the sound without focusing on it and becoming anxious.

Avoid the dark – Over the next few weeks walking your dog during day light hours is important as you can never be sure when people are going to set fireworks off. Walking and exercising your dog in daylight hours whenever possible will allow them to get rid of excess energy and help them to relax during the evening.

Distraction – using food games, bones or food dispensing toys during fireworks can keep dogs distracted and focused on something else. Remember to keep an eye on your dog as not all dogs will find food enough of a distraction or may not eat when they feel stressed.

A safe place – during firework season your dog may need their own space where they can feel safe. This can be anywhere in your home but creating a den like a

rea will provide comfort and somewhere to hide if they feel overwhelmed. If you don’t use this safe place all year round remember to introduce the dog to their safe place a few weeks before firework season that way they will have time to adapt to their new space. Once they are using it, it is best to leave them alone, giving fuss while stressed can increase the unwanted behaviour.

Stay indoors – If you know there will be fireworks keep them inside, close doors, windows and curtains so the sound from the outside is muffled (this also helps to reduce the sudden flashes of light coming into the room).  Playing music or having the TV on at a slightly higher volume can often be a good distraction for dogs from the lights and noises of the fireworks outside.

Identification – Always be sure your dog has a collar with up to date contact details on them in case your dog finds a way of escaping the house or garden through fear. If you are out and don’t like leaving a collar on, may sure their microchip is up to date! A frightened dog is less likely to listen when they are fleeing somewhere because they are frightened so close doors behind you and check your garden is secure.

Stay home – Try not to leave your dog alone if they are affected by fireworks and you know there are likely to be fireworks in your area. Occasional affection and treats are great but don’t make a fuss, if you worry so will they. Sometimes having a friend with their dog can help as they are pack animals and naturally tend to be more relaxed.

Check your garden – Before letting your dog out into the garden make sure you do a quick check of the area to make sure no stray fireworks, discarded sprinklers or any other debris that may have made its way into the garden during the night.  Also check your boundaries are secure and supervise.

Neve take them to a display – although some dogs show no fear of fireworks you should avoid taking any dog to a firework display, with a mixture of big crowds, strange noises and smells this could stress your dog out and cause them to panic and do something out of character or escape your grip.

Never tie your dog up outside at night during firework season. They could cause them self a serious injury if they were to get scared by the noises and lights. Unfortunately, there are also some very nasty people around and over time there have been more and more reports of groups or individual people causing harm – if you see or hear about this kind of behavior be sure to inform the police of your findings.

And finally, have fun this firework season!

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