How to keep your dog calm during fireworks on Bonfire Night

Dog on the background of the night sky with fireworks. The dog enjoys celebrating the Independence Day of America on 4th July. Greeting card for the celebration of Independence Day of America on 4th July
Bonfire Night can be the scariest day of the year for dogs (Picture: Getty Images)

Most of us remember, remember the fifth of November as a time for warm hats, mulled wine and sparkling fireworks.

But for dogs , Bonfire Night continues to be one of the most terrifying times of the year.

Already this month, concerned owners have started sharing pictures and videos of their dogs shaking with fear in their homes.

While one woman is calling for a review of firework rules after her 18-week-old puppy died from a heart attack due to the noise .

The animals have a more acute sense of hearing than humans, and so perceive every loud bang as a threat.

According to the RSPCA, roughly 45% of dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks – so what can you do to keep them calm?
Dog
Try and take your dog for a walk before the fireworks begin (Picture: Getty Images/ EyeEm)

Take them for a walk earlier in the day

It’s best to avoid taking your dog for a walk after dark, as most fireworks get started around 6pm.

Taking them for a longer walk than usual may also help them feel more drowsy and relaxed once the loud bangs begin.

Reduce Stress. Dr. Becker notes, “The key is to reduce anxiety triggers.” If you have a vet visit, “don’t get the carrier out the night before,” give them a few days to get prepared. If they’re nervous alone or travelling, play soothing music, or draw the shades. The less stimulus pets receive from the outside world, the less anxiety they’ll have about events outside their control.

Muffle the sound of fireworks

The RSPCA recommends closing the windows, doors and curtains in your house to block out the sound of fireworks.

Putting on music or the TV is also a good way to cover up the noise.

Owners could also opt to buy ear muffs for their pets.

Dog hidden.
If your dog hides, you shouldn’t try and coax them out (Picture: iStockphoto)

Create a safe space

It’s important to make sure your pets have somewhere to hide during the fireworks, for example under furniture or in a cupboard.

The animal should be able to easily access the area at all times.

Once they’re in their safe space, it’s recommended that owners don’t try to coax them out, as this could add to their stress.

Train your dog to have a ‘doggy safe den’

The RSPCA suggests making a ‘doggy den’ in the quietest room of your house, where your pet can feel calm and in control of their surroundings.

It’s crucial the dog associates the den with positive experiences, which owners can do by putting in a comfy bed, lots of toys and a kong full of food.

You can then cover the den with a blanket once the fireworks begin.

Use a Food Dispensing Toy for Fast Eaters. If your dog eats too fast use a food dispensing toy (we love the Kong Wobbler & Bob a Lot), or place a few tennis balls in their bowl to slow their eating. Not only does this keep them from eating too quick, it gives them a nice mental workout.

Owners might want to stay with their dog while they’re in the den – but shouldn’t try and force them to interact if they don’t want to.

Don’t react to the fireworks yourself

Keeping calm around fireworks yourself will help your pets relax in return.

Dogs perceive fireworks as a potential threat, so seeing their owner respond without fear can help ease this anxiety.

Don’t punish your pets for being scared

You should never punish your dog for being scared, as it will only make things worse in the long run.

Make sure your dog is in a secure environment

It’s important to make sure your dog can’t bolt from the house if they hear loud noises.

Owners should also ensure their pets are microchipped, just in case they do escape.

Cozy home, woman covered with warm blanket watching movie, hugging sleeping dog. Relax, carefree, comfort lifestyle.
Your dog can undergo sound therapy for free online (Picture: Getty Images/ iStockphoto)

Get your dog used to loud noises with sound therapy

Sound Therapy 4 Pets is a free treatment programme which owners can download from Dogs Trust online.

The programme contains a collection of specifically recorded noises which can help get puppies used to loud and unpredictable sounds.

Here’s looking at you. Dogs have three eyelids, an upper lid, a lower lid and the third lid, called a nictitating membrane or “haw,” which helps keep the eye moist and protected.

Each treatment has been developed by two veterinary surgeons specialising in pet behavioural therapy.

You can also use the programmes to get your dog ready for crying babies, thunder and noisy traffic.

For more information, visit the RSPCA guidelines here.