Guy Fawkes Night: 6 ways to help your dog cope with fireworks

Some dogs find loud noises like fireworks frightening. (Em Hopper/Pexels)
Some dogs find loud noises like fireworks frightening. (Em Hopper/Pexels)

Every year in October and November, people come together to celebrate festivals and holidays like Diwali, Halloween, and bonfire night.

A very popular way to mark the occasion is by using fireworks to light up the skies.

However, every pet owner will know all too well that our fluffy friends often find the noise of fireworks quite distressing.

Their fear of loud noises and flashing lights is because of dogs’ extremely well-developed senses, which are designed to help them avoid danger and remain safe.

Canine behaviourist Adam Fehmi, of pet-care platform Rover, has shared his advice on how pet owners can help their dogs cope with fireworks.

1. Be prepared

Get in touch with your neighbours and local authority to find out when and where fireworks might be set off so that you can prepare for what’s to come.

If you already know that your dog finds it difficult to cope with fireworks, consider arranging for your dog to stay with a trusted friend or family member. If this isn’t an option, then you might want to consider hiring a pet sitter through platforms like Rover.

Otherwise, try to create a comfortable, safe, and inviting area for your pup in time for the fireworks. Close the windows and the curtains to shield them from as much noise and light as possible.

2. Exercise your dog

Before the display, take your dog for a walk to reduce their energy. Just like humans, dogs find exercising calming and, the less energy they have to worry, the better.

3. Slowly build up your dog’s exposure to the noise and sight of fireworks

Desensitising your dog over a prolonged amount of time will give them the opportunity to learn to get used to it.

Starting weeks before the fireworks, play fireworks videos on your phone. At first, keep the volume low and build it up over the days and weeks.

You can train your dog when you’re walking them by waiting a while until they are tired and then playing the sounds on your phone.

4. Reward positive, non-reactive behaviour

Whether it’s during the training period or the actual fireworks, give your dog their favourite toy and reward them with tasty treats for trying to stay calm.

5. Stay calm

It is important that your pup doesn’t see you making a big fuss about the noises, as this will signal to them that there’s something to be afraid of.

6. Distract your dog

Use calming music or something similar to drown out the firework noise.

You can also play games or offer them a new toy to focus on and get distracted by.

It is best to start the distraction activities before the fireworks can be heard or seen. Once they’re worried and fearful, they won’t be able to focus on eating or playing. So, try to engage them in these activities before fear can set in.