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   it's a dog's life - dog and puppy training

   07711 018804

Dogs, puppies and fireworks

The fireworks season has begun - Bonfire Night, Diwali, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year - so it’s time to think of our four-legged family members, as the noise, bangs and flashing lights can be frightening for them. Penny at It’s A Dog’s Life shares her top tips for helping your dog overcome the anxiety fireworks can cause.

Let’s start by exploding (sorry I couldn’t resist!!) a couple of myths. Firstly, not all dogs are scared of fireworks. Many dogs are not in the least bit bothered by the loud ​bangs, unusual smells and bright flashes. 

There are a few dogs that actually enjoy fireworks! Yes really! I had an oddball German Shepherd that would sit in the garden looking up at the sky totally transfixed. Meanwhile, my other dog would run away and hide under the bed!

How you treat your dog and the way they respond to fireworks can have a long term impact on their behaviour

Secondly, if a dog shows signs of fear and anxiety the worst possible thing you can do is to try to comfort and reassure them. This may sound counter intuitive but to dogs strokes and cuddles are normally perceived as rewards for good behaviour, so being affectionate will actually signify to the dog that you are rewarding anxiety and unwanted behaviours. Also if you are anxious your dog will quickly pick that up, which will make them even more anxious.​

What should I do? 

Try the following tips:

  • behave normally
  • shut curtains/blinds put the TV on
  • distractions are key
  • play games
  • do some training and include plenty of commands that they know so you can reward with treats and praise
  • fill a Kong with high value treats
  • toss a treat at every bang

When there are fireworks going on,  please don’t sit on the sofa cuddling your puppy for hours at a time! How you react now could affect their behaviour around noises for the rest of their lives. 

If you know from experience that dog your is fearful of fireworks

  • if your dog wants to hide in the corner or under furniture build a den there - include soft blankets, something you wear, favourite toys, a really tasty chew - eg. a pigs ear
  • plug in lavender diffusers
  • a week or two before the fireworks begin, start giving calming herbs like Skullcap & Valerian
  • if necessary pheromone tablets or collars such as Adaptil may help
  • a dog anxiety jacket like Thundershirt may help alleviate anxiety
  • plus all of the strategies above eg playing games, training etc

When the fireworks season is over and if you’re worried about how your dog will cope next year you can talk to me about a desensitisation programme. Call me to find out more >

My dog Boo looking very relaxed during fireworks

Here's my dog Boo, striking a very relaxed pose, while a noisy fireworks display goes on nearby

My dog Boo during fireworks