With firework season upon us, there are countless stories about pets who are terrified and distraught owners looking for advice. Ryan Simpson’s pug Frankie suffers terribly when she hears fireworks. She shakes uncontrollably and it is very distressing to see. Ryan has spent a lot of time researching ways to help Frankie. Here are his 11 tips to help your dog deal with fireworks.
Ryan's 11 Tips To Help Your Dog Deal With Fireworks
These are from our learnings over the last 4 years after rescuing a very anxious and reactive female dog. I’ve also had some great help from some great professionals. Please feel free to share.
There is no ‘miracle cure that helps EVERY dog, they are all different and what may help one might not even scratch the surface for others.
1 – Be Prepared and Be Prepared!
Do not wait for the first firework to set your dog off. Use some of the following tips to set up your home, yourself and most importantly your dog. If you let them hear the fireworks before doing the following then its really hard to calm them down.
2 – Walk Them Early
Get out for a long walk in daylight for as long as you can and let them explore. I would also recommend keeping your dog on the lead at all times. Some people think it’s acceptable or funny to let fireworks off during the day.
3 – Feed Them Before Darkness
Let them eat earlier. Having a full belly will help them settle and want to snooze, especially if they’ve had a long walk. CBD Oils can be added to their food to help them be calmer.
4 – Soundproof Your Home
For me the most important thing is to seal out the noise from your home. Shut all windows and curtains and close doors around the house. Every layer helps to shut out the noise from coming in. We keep all the doors closed upstairs so they don’t hear the noise from above. We turn up the TV up loud in the living room and have a music system playing Classical Music in the kitchen. So what we are basically doing here is shutting out the sounds of fireworks from the front and back of our home. This needs to be set up at dusk before the bangs begin. There are plenty of links available on YouTube to help calm your dogs.. and on Spotify there is this playlist.
5 – Remedies and Potions
Some dogs will find some comfort with having Pet remedy sprays and plugins around the home. These need to be put on again way before darkness to have the best effect. Sadly for our Frankie these don’t really do much for her and have vet supplied sedatives. There are lots available from your vet and it’s highly recommended you have these conversations next time you are at the vets. Frankie has Sileo and we find this works as long as we have the house set up also. We don’t like to sedate our dogs at all, but it really depends on the levels of stress your dog is going through. I recommend vet supplied sedatives as a ‘last-resort’ option. CBD Oils can be added to their food to help them be calmer.
6 – Thunder Shirts, Wraps And Ear Defenders
These do work depending on your dogs level of anxiety and when you put these on. Frankie has a thunder shirt and we spray pet remedy on that also.. However this is put on her as soon as she has eaten. Thunder shirts won’t fix every dog and are quite expensive for what they do. There are cheaper alternatives such as ‘wrapping’. Above is a useful video link of creating something very similar at home.
Also you can buy ear defenders, but these are very expensive. Alternatives can be bandages or snoods to cover your dogs ears. Good luck with these though, there aren’t many dogs who mind having their ears covered.
7 – Create A Safe Place
If you can create a den with your dogs favourite blanket and toys it may give them a safe haven to go to. Keep this away from the doors and close to you. You can use a dog crate and put blankets over it. As mentioned above, every layer will help reduce the noise going on outside.
8 – Keep Calm
If you seem stressed your dogs will feel that also. So try not to flap around and keep calm yourself. I know that’s easier said then done. I also recommend keeping off local community groups as you will always find one person on there who will try and annoy anxious dog owners.
9 – Make A Difference
When you see a petition online to ban general sale of fireworks, take 5 minutes out and fill in that petition. Slowly we might get more people to sit up and take notice. If you don’t bother then we are not helping each other especially those who are struggling in their homes.
10 – Seek Professional Advice
If all the online tips don’t help then I would seek professional advice from a good, local dog behaviourist. They can visit you and determine the levels of your dog’s fright and anxiety. They will be able to guide you with their techniques and tell you if they feel you should go to the vet and discuss using stronger sedation drugs.
11 – Desensitisation
Not recommend during firework season, but earlier in the year you can start to work with your dog to get used to some noises like fireworks. Build up the volume over weeks not minutes and you will help your dog later in the year when the fireworks begin. There are plenty of videos on YouTube and Apps for your phone. Start this as soon as you can, and the younger the dog the better. It just builds up their anxiety immune system.
I hope some of these tips help you. Good luck!
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