The bangs and booms of fireworks often begin in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve, and even dogs who don’t seem overly concerned with the noise of fireworks, have been known to flee in fright when a loud bang happens unexpectedly close during a walk. So, choose a time of day or night when most people are not actively out and about and likely to be ‘trying out’ their crackers and rockets. Or, if possible, choose an alternate location to walk your dog as far away from areas where this might happen. Also, make sure your dog is wearing a harness with name/number tag and is leashed at all times in areas of firework risk.
2.✅Prepare a ‘Safe-Zone’ for your dog at home.
A covered crate (with door left open or taken off) or a cosy bed placed in an area where your dog normally likes to hang out and sleep during the day. Some dogs prefer a very quiet, darker space in another room away from it all, whilst others prefer to be closer to where the other family members or dogs are hanging out. Give your dog a couple of different options and see which one they prefer, and remember to provide lots of safe chewing activities for your him/her to help relieve his stress. Eg. a filled Kong, bully stick or raw knuckle bone.
Flower essences and essential oils (only use pure, therapeutic grade oils) have amazing properties to help soothe, calm and balance emotions in both humans and dogs.
Bach Rescue Remedy is one of my favourites to offer my dogs in times of stress, and can have an almost immediate effect to relax and calm. However, I have found the best results are to start using it at least 3-5 days before the stressful event.
Essential oils including Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Valerian Root, Lemon, Clary Sage, Vetiver, Rose, Bergamot, Patchouli, Geranium, Lemon Grass, Mandarin, Frankincense are all good options.
Although all the oils I have listed here have a calming, soothing and/or slightly sedative effect, each oil has slightly different properties and depending on how your dog reacts to fireworks, (eg do they try to hide, seek shelter, seek comfort, escape by fleeing, shiver and shake, or do they get over-aroused, barking, whining, howling and try to run towards the source of the noise or flashes of light), there might be one or two which are best suited for your specific dog’s reaction to their fear.
* If you would like some help to decide which flower essence or essential oils might be best for your dog, and how to use them, please contact me for a free 20 minute telephone consultation!
4.✅The Magic of Touch
Gentle touch, stroking, massage and close body contact can be very helpful to calm your dog and create a sense of security. Calming touch helps to release oxytocin and endorphins in our dogs and ourselves, which are the ‘feel good’ hormones helping to combat stress and create a feeling of safety.
However, some dogs prefer not to be touched and massaged when they are feeling stressed and, in this case, a ‘body wrap’ may be helpful to create the same sense of safety and comfort without the physical touch. A snug fitting (but not tight) T-shirt or Thundershirt are also good options to help comfort your dog by providing sensory input to the nervous system.
5.✅Music to soothe the Soul.
According to research, creating music by adjusting the relationships between tone, tempo and pattern, can alter brain, and activate the sympathetic nervous system to alter heart rate and breathing and reduce anxiety. Examples of music specially created for dogs are ‘Through a Dog’s Ear’ and ‘iCalmDog’.
White Noise and Whole Tones are also a popular choices of music which helps promote relaxation, sleep and overall well-being in pets. This music can be streamed on the internet, purchased and/or available on downloadable apps.
A simple solution could also be to simply play some pleasant background music or having the TV on during fireworks, to ‘drown out’ the bangs and booms happening outside, if they are some distance away.
💗And, one more important thing to remember: 💗
YOU can influence the situation by being a calm role model for your dog.
Go about your daily or evening activities as normal, showing little fuss or concern for the noises happening outside. This does not mean you shouldn’t comfort your dog if he / she needs it – on the contrary – you should acknowledge how your dog is feeling and show him/her that you are there for comfort and support any time they need it, whilst communicating your intention to do all you can to help him/her feel safe and comfortable.
This is not a good time to adjust feeding, playing and sleeping routines. If, however your dog loves to do things like sniffing for treats around your home, playing with his interactive toys, chewing activities or even some training games, then you can use these as fun distractions if your dog is happy to participate.
The bottom line is keep your dog safe, keep him/her as comfortable as possible and be the calm, caring and supportive guardian he/she need during this time. ✨😀❤️