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Listen: how to help dogs cope during fireworks

With almost half of dog owners (49%) reporting that their dog’s wellbeing is affected by fireworks, Dogs Trust’s canine behaviour experts have share the following tips to help dogs cope with fireworks:

  • Plan ahead and be prepared for local firework displays to limit any surprises and to make arrangements so your dog isn’t left alone.  
  • Prepare their environment in advance, such as closing curtains, keeping lights and the TV on and creating a safe space for them to retreat to.   
  • Speak to your vet well ahead of fireworks events – they can help with advice and may also prescribe medication to help your dog cope. 
  • Make sure your house and garden are safe and secure and keep your dog indoors during events.  
  • Adapt your routine to avoid taking your dog out when fireworks have started, gradually changing their routine in the weeks leading up to events.  
  • Dogs react differently to fireworks; some appear relaxed and unbothered by the whizzes and bangs; others show signs of anxiety or fear. It’s important to understand the subtle, or more obvious signs. Whilst these signs can be related to fear of noise, they can also indicate other underlying health problems, so it is best to contact your vet for advice if you are concerned.  
  • Allow your dog to do what they feel most comfortable with – some dogs will benefit from having a safe place to retreat to should they feel worried by fireworks, other dogs will cope best by seeking reassurance, so give them attention and comfort if they seek this out.  
  • Some dogs may not seem worried, and it’s best to keep them occupied with their favourite items or activities so they don’t start to get anxious – experiment before the firework season begins, and slowly introduce them, to find out what they enjoy the most.  
  • Note down how your dog reacted during the fireworks and what worked well to help them cope.

Ryan spoke to Beckie Wheldon, canine behaviour officer at Dogs Trust.

Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

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