New Ways To Calm Your Dog During The Fireworks

Shutterstock / Annette Shaff © chihuahua under blanket on a couch. Keep dogs calm during fireworks

How can you help your dog cope with firework-induced stress and anxiety? A canine behaviour expert recommends reggae music or a calming audiobook of Roald Dahl stories!

With most public fireworks displays cancelled this year, families are gearing up to celebrate Bonfire Night 2020 at home. Inevitably this means more DIY-style fireworks in the back garden.

It’s not good news for the nation’s dogs, as the lead-up to Bonfire Night and the night itself, can be a very traumatic time. The loud bangs and flashes can cause stress, anxiety and unpredictability, potentially putting animals’ safety at risk.

Recent research from the Kennel Club shows that 1 in 4 new dog owners have purchased a puppy during the pandemic. This means there will be lots of young dogs who will be going through their first Bonfire Night experience.

“Find another way to celebrate”

Dogs and fireworks: little girl in a knitted pink hat holding sparkler

Sparklers aren’t so noisy… though they still give off that cordite smell. Pic: Shutterstock

Canine behaviour expert Kirsten Dillon, in partnership with premium raw pet food brand Natural Instinct, is calling for people to be aware of the problem if they are considering hosting their own fireworks night at home.

Kirsten comments, “Fireworks are a dog’s worst nightmare! With more people celebrating Bonfire Night at home this year, it is likely there will be an increase in loud bangs from different places to terrify our dogs.

“We’d urge people to consider other ways to enjoy the festivities that don’t involve setting off fireworks in the back garden.”

For dog owners who may be concerned, Kirsten offers her top tips and advice to help keep them calm and reduce stress and anxiety.

“It’s important to make sure your dog feels as safe as possible. There are lots of simple ways to do this, such as closing the windows and curtains to muffle the sounds, but there are also more unusual things you can try to help them stay relaxed and calm.

“Clinical research shows that reggae is the most effective musical style to soothe and calm dogs, while other studies show that audiobooks of Roald Dahl stories have had similar effects!”

Kirsten’s top tips for keeping your dog calm

1. Create a safe haven

Look at where your pet chooses to hide. Then turn that place into a soundproof, darkened escape, whether that’s the downstairs toilet or the cupboard under the stairs!

2. Play some Reggae music

Golden Retriever wearing headphones listening to music, eyes closed, lying on back

Chilling with the beat – it works! Pic: Shutterstock

Clinical studies have proven that Reggae sounds will help to soothe and calm anxious dogs, in addition to masking the bangs and shrieks going on outside.

3. Play an audiobook such as Roald Dahl stories

Studies have also shown that audiobooks can help create a calm atmosphere – with Roald Dahl stories being the top pick for dogs. What a wonderful new accolade for a great author!

4. Give your dog Sileo

Sileo is proven to be very effective and easy to administer at home to help dogs with noise aversion. However, please do consult your vet or other professional beforehand for advice and guidance. In addition, make sure you read and follow the instructions carefully.

5. Try plug-in diffusers, Thundershirts or pet remedies

Plug-ins typically use pheromones with de-stressing properties. A range is available at Pets At Home.

Meanwhile Thundershirts vests provide gentle constant pressure, which is known to have relaxing effects.

Pet remedies such as a calming supplement are also reported to help relieve anxiety.

Once again, please consult your vet or other professional beforehand if you have any concerns, and always read and follow instructions carefully.

6. Mask the smell of fireworks

The scent of cordite is a trigger for fear, just as much as flashes and noise. So finding a way to cover up the smell will also help. Time to do some baking, perhaps?