Helping your dog cope with fireworks
Our four-legged friends can find fireworks stressful but there are things you can do to help them cope.
Preparing for Fireworks
Make your house and garden escape-proof. Dogs can try to run away if they’re scared. Close your windows and curtains, turn the lights on, and try switching on the TV to help disguise the noise.
Go for walkies before dark. Make sure you get out well before any fireworks could start.
Feed your dog before it gets noisy. Once fireworks begin, your dog might be too stressed to eat.
Create a safe hiding place and settle your dog before fireworks start. A doggy den is a great way to help your dogs to feel safe and secure. A den is easy to make and can be put together with things you already have. Here's how:
Don't leave your dog alone. Your pooch could panic without you, so stick around for the evening to help them feel relaxed.
Provide entertainment. Keeping your dog busy indoors can take their mind off the noise. Play games or practise some reward-based training.
Let your dog hide if they want to. Don’t make them come out of their safe space if they don’t want to. And never force a dog outside during fireworks.
Comfort and reassure your dog. Dogs are extremely good at picking up on how their humans are feeling. So if you stay calm, they will be much more likely to stay calm too. Have a snuggle on the sofa (if they’re into that) and try to relax. Don't punish them for cowering or reacting to the fireworks as this will intensify their fear.
Public fireworks events are likely to be cancelled this year which could mean more people buy fireworks to use at home. Encourage your neighbours to consider the dogs on your street before setting off whizzes and bangs, with our printable poster. Download a poster to colour in and put in your window.
Fireworks colouring in poster PDF 1.33 MB
If you’re planning on having fireworks in your garden:
- Let your neighbours know well in advance
- Keep the noisy part of the evening short
- Choose quieter or silent fireworks if you can
My dog is still scared, what should I do?
If your dog is very worried by fireworks or other loud noises, they might need longer-term treatment.
Speak to your vet to see if there's an underlying health problem. If there’s not, they may be able to offer a referral to a qualified behaviourist who can help tackle your dog’s fear. Your vet will also be able to discuss whether medication might be helpful.
Behaviour therapy will vary for each dog. Treatment might focus on teaching your dog a consistent way to cope with loud noises, potentially using a den to hide when they’re worried. Or a behaviourist might recommend desensitisation and counter-conditioning treatment, which would gradually teach your dog that noises are not scary by associating them with something your dog enjoys like treats or a game.
Dog School's guide to preventing a fear of loud noises.
Sound Therapy for your dog – free sound-based treatment programme for dogs, developed by pet behavioural therapy specialists.