Fireworks are coming, prepare ahead

Fireworks can be distressing for dogs. Prepare ahead to help your dog cope this season and beyond.

illustration showing two dogs relaxing on fireworks night
29th September 2023

Many dogs of all ages experience fear due to loud noises, which can significantly affect their well-being

Your dog can develop a fear of fireworks at any stage in their life. By taking these preventative steps, you can reduce the likelihood of your pooch becoming afraid of these inevitable loud noises. 

Prepare for a cosy night in

Turn fireworks from scary to fun, by planning ahead for a cosy night-in with your dog.  

Use our free, downloadable action planner to plan what to do and when:

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Download our action plan
  • Find out when fireworks are likely to go off in your area. Research local events to find out when local firework displays are, check neighbourhood groups on social media, Nextdoor forums, and talk to your neighbours to see if they’re planning on having fireworks in their gardens. You might even want to let them know how fireworks affect your dog and what you’re doing to help them. 
  • Arrange your plans around key fireworks dates, like Bonfire Night and Diwali, to make sure you, or someone your dog knows well, will be at home with them when scary sounds are likely. 
  • Adjust your schedule: Plan your walks to make sure your dog is indoors when any fireworks are likely. This might mean changing your routine to walk them earlier in the day and changing your feeding schedule to give your dog time to eat and go to the toilet before dark. 
  • Prepare your surroundings: Close all windows and doors and seal any gaps to reduce outside noise. Dogs can try to run away if they’re scared so check your doors, windows and fences are secure.    
  • Create a sanctuary: Make sure your dog has a well-established safe space they can retreat to, make it extra snug and get yourself comfy too. Introduce this ahead of fireworks so your dog learns it’s a positive place to be.

Find out more about creating a safe space for your dog.

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  • Prepare some treats to distract your pooch and keep them happily occupied. Lick mats with dog-safe peanut butter are a popular choice, or why not create some seasonal favourites?

Read our autumnal recipe for pumpkin dog treats:

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  • Play their favourite games (if they want to!): Experiment with different enrichment in the run up to fireworks, to find out what treats, games and puzzles your dog enjoys the most. Dogs who are fearful of fireworks may not want to engage in activities when they’re going off and instead may seek reassurance or hide. If this happens, let them hide or give them comfort, and speak to your vet afterwards.

Here are some enrichment ideas for your dog:

Recipes and enrichment
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Recipes and enrichment

Fireworks already here? Find more advice on how to support your dog during the night of fireworks:

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Preparing your puppy for fireworks

Help your puppy feel relaxed and confident around different sounds 

To reduce the chances of your puppy developing a fear of noises, gradually and positively introduce them to a wide range of sounds.

Our research shows that introduction to loud sounds is best done during puppyhood and is especially helpful for puppies that are 13 weeks of age and younger.

You can use sound recordings to get your puppy accustomed to loud noises. Check out our sound therapy recordings, specifically the ‘Sounds Scary’ track.

Before you get started, make sure you can recognise signs of fear or anxiety in your furry pal. If you see any of these signs, you know you’re progressing too quickly and need to slow down.  

For puppies who are experiencing fireworks for the first time, planning fun activities for you to enjoy together will help strengthen your bond and make nights inside a positive experience. Check out our ideas for fun nights in with your pooch.

Dogs can develop a fear of fireworks at any point, so along with planning for a cosy night in, we recommend you learn the signs of distress: 

  • Vocalising more than usual like barking, growling, whining and crying 
  • Jumping up at you or someone else  
  • Dribbling, drooling and panting  
  • Holding tail down between their legs 
  • Hiding or trying to hide  
  • Pacing 
  • Not wanting to eat 
  • Salivating or lip licking 
  • Pulling or running away  

If you witness any of the above in response to loud noises, we recommend you make a trip to the vet.

What to do if your pooch is fearful of fireworks/loud noises

  • Make an appointment to see your vet
  • If your dog shows any signs of fear of fireworks or other loud noises, talk to your vet as soon as possible. They can check if there are any medical problems contributing to your dog’s fear of noises.  
  • Your vet may refer you to a clinical behaviourist and give advice on additional treatments like medication. Read our advice on finding a qualified behaviourist. 
  • If it’s right for your dog, medication can be extremely useful to help them cope during fireworks and stop their fear escalating.  

What to do during fireworks  

  • On the night of fireworks, it’s important to recognise the needs of your individual dog and let them choose:  
  • If your dog wants to hide, let them stay where they feel safe. 
  • If they seek reassurance, calmly give them attention and comfort. Research shows that ignoring them won’t help. 
  • If your dog doesn’t seem worried, then it’s best to keep them busy with their favourite toys or activities so they don’t become anxious.   

For more advice on how to support your dog during the night of fireworks, read more here.

After fireworks 

Fireworks are unlikely to be isolated to one night, so understanding what works for your dog will help you support them throughout the firework season. In the days after fireworks, continue to monitor your dog as you go about day-to-day activities.  

And again, if your dog showed signs of fear or anxiety during fireworks, speak to your vet. Your vet can also refer you to a clinical behaviourist who can create a tailored plan to support you and your dog. 

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