Take the Fear Out of Fireworks
Written by Adaptil, published on April 18, 2023
Due to some restrictions, there is likely to be no large firework displays this year but there is the potential for more back garden firework displays so it's still important to be prepared.
A recent questionnaire Adaptil conducted1 shows that 95% of us would usually attend a big fireworks display but 78% of us would NOT go this year if one was organised.
With the large displays being cancelled it is likely more people will have garden displays. In fact, over 85% of respondents are worried about this.
With the potential of fireworks being even closer to your home, it's essential you are prepared.
What could this mean for your dog?
85% of owners state that their dogs find fireworks stressful - this is huge and obviously a real worry for dogs. With the fireworks being closer to home they will be noisier and more impactful. This is likely to cause more stress for owners and dogs and many of our loving companions could really struggle with this situation.
Things you can do to help your dog:
It is best to prepare for the fireworks early to help your dog be able to cope as well as they can, feel safe, secure and reassured as much as possible.
Here are some top tips to help you prepare and help your dog stay calm around fireworks:
- Create a safe haven/den for your dog: somewhere they can retreat to and help them to feel safe and calm. To create a area:
- Covering a crate or building a hiding place with comfy blankets and bedding can help them feel cosy there and comfortable, ideally you want to build this in a place they usually like to rest. Dogs like to be covered so having a blanket or sheet over this area to make it den-like can help them
- Including an old t-shirt of yours or their favourite toys just to be nearby can help some dogs.
- Provide something yummy to associate that area with, a filled Kong, their favourite bone or treats.
- Make sure a ADAPTIL Calm Diffuser is plugged in near this area, and ideally at least a week before the fireworks are expected.
- Spray fleece throws, blankets, bedding and comfortable areas with Adaptil Transport Spray.
- Leave this den built for as long as possible. Ideally have this for your dog all the time and make it positive, rewarding (treats/food/yummy and fun toys given there) in advance of fireworks season. Most dogs will use this as a safe place all year round.
ADAPTIL: Plug in an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser in the room your dog spends the most time and ADAPTIL will diffuse comforting pheromone messages to promote a feeling of safety and calm. This scientifically proven pheromone is naturally comforting and can help relax dogs throughout new or scary situations. ADAPTIL is clinically proven to help reduce signs of fear such as trembling and hiding by 93% in dogs 2,3 and is also proven to reassure and help puppies learn4.
41 out of the 51 users of Adaptil would recommend it, which is a high recommendation rate of 80% of owners.
- As an additional support you are able to use ADAPTIL Express calm tablets alongside ADAPTIL Calm. They contain a combination of natural ingredients that help provide a fast and temporary calming effect. Just administer 2 hours before the anticipated event to help your dog for up to 4 hours after administration.
- Thundershirt: consider using a Thundershirt, which is another ideal additional support tool to use alongside ADAPTIL. Easy and effective to use, just pop the vest on and it will sit snugly around the dog's body to provide a relaxing and soothing effect on the dog's nervous system by applying a gentle, steady pressure. Recommended by experts and backed up by studies and surveys. Works differently and complements ADAPTIL.
- Muffling the noise: Turn the tv up and play a channel that doesn't include any scary or loud sounds, channels that involve a lot of people talking are often best. The same goes for the radio or music.
- You could play reggae or classical music - previous studies show classical music can be great for dogs to calm, but a most recent study shows reggae is a great music choice to play to help calm dogs and block out the sounds of the scary unexpected firework bangs. Take a look at our Calming Music for Dogs Playlist on YouTube for 15 hours of relaxing sounds.
- Walk Early: so that there is little/no chance of going outside and fireworks going off, or being spooked. Also, to avoid any association with the dark and fireworks occurring don't walk your dog after dark or allow them to go outside during the dark and fireworks.
- Let your dog out in the garden regularly while it's quiet and light before any fireworks could start. It should help them with needing the toilet and hopefully they can hold their bladder until morning.
- If your dog is not used to holding it for that long, wake up slightly earlier the next morning to provide a toilet break, so that they are not holding it too long.
- Microchip: check that your dog's microchip is up to date with the correct details, dogs can run when they get spooked and get lost. Make sure there is no escape route and that your garden is secure with doors and windows closed.
- Close all the windows, doors, curtains/blinds: this will reduce some of the noise and also hide the bright lights that can be just as scary for our dogs, especially when associated with the loud sounds.
- Comfort them: give them love with soft and calm movements, strokes and reassurance if your dog seeks that from you and calming voice tones.
- Playing and distractions: if they want to play or are happy to investigate a food puzzle and activity feeder provide this need. If they are food motivated and want to be distracted this will help worry less about the loud potentially scary sounds.
Just calm talking and being close by and not leaving them alone in a room can be reassuring enough for some dogs. Always allow them to hide or go to their hidden safe haven as they will comfort themselves and always give them space. Always be a friend, never punish and stay nearby.
If you are worried about your dog and fireworks season it is always best to seek professional advice from a qualified reward-based behaviourist and your vet.
1) Facebook Survey, 231 Dog owners 2020
2) Evaluation of dog appeasing pheromone (D.A.P.¬Æ) as a potential treatment for dogs fearful of fireworks. Sheppard G, Mills D S Veterinary Record, 2003; 152, 432-436.
3) Effect of Dog Appeasing Pheromone Collar (DAP¬Æ) on a Model of Sound-Induced Fear and Anxiety. Landsberg G, Beck A, Araujo JA, Milgram N. Proceedings of the 9th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, 2013, 45-46.
4) Effects of dog appeasing pheromone (D.A.P.¬Æ) on anxiety and fear in puppies during training and on long-term socialisation. Denenberg S, Landsberg G M Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2008; 233, 1874-1882.
Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.
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