Fireworks will come around very quickly and with over 50% of our canine friends being reported as having a fear of fireworks1, it is important to be prepared in order to help them.
First of all is your dog scared of fireworks or loud noises? If you are not sure, how about trying this questionnaire designed by veterinary behaviourist Jon Bowen. You will be provided with a score at the end which will let you know if your dog needs help and what help to seek.
There are many things you can do to help before the night.
- Desensitization and counterconditioning. This is something that needs to be done well away from fireworks time so spring or summer is best. See our blog on Desensitization for more information.
- Safe Havens or Dens
- Building a den or safe haven can be beneficial to your dog at all times but especially fireworks. It is a place they can retreat to that will help block out the sounds of the fireworks. But many people leave it too late.
- A large dog crate (with enough room for them to sleep stretched out on their side and for some food and water is a good place to start.
- You then need to make it appealing for them with a comfy bed and lots of treats/chews and toys.
- You can start with just the bed use a positive reward when they will lie on the bed. Then you slowly move the bed closer to the crate and eventually inside the crate.
- Keeping the crate open is important as this allows them to option to leave if they want to and avoids any stress. Again, we want this to be a place they like to go, not a place they worry about being shut in.
- After they are happy with the crate and use it to relax in you can add the sound proofing. A good thick duvet can really help muffle out the sounds of fireworks.
- ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffusers plugged in next to the den sends comforting messages (the same as they get from their mother after birth) that help make the area around the den feel safe, secure and familiar. Dogs have been shown to use their den significantly more when using ADAPTIL Calm compared to a placebo2. You can also use ADAPTIL Transport spray. A few sprays into the den will make sure this certain area is marked as safe. and also
- The ADAPTIL Calm On-the-Go collar is the perfect solution if your dog can be nervous out and about. Many dogs sense that fireworks are on their way due to the darker evenings and so walks can become more stressful for them. The collar will also be with them within their den.
- If they like it, why not keep it there all the time. A little bit of ‘chill zone’ for them to retreat to!
- Talk to your vet or local behaviourist. Many owners forget and leave contacting their vet until the week before fireworks. This limits what they can do to help and even if you want some sedatives sometimes a trial dose is recommended before the night itself to check how well it will work.
- Although ADAPTIL will work well within 24 hours it is also advised to buy your ADAPTIL well before fireworks as dogs can even get stressed as the nights get longer having associated this with fireworks. ADAPTIL will help reduce this stress and build up and help them cope better on the night. Read our blog for top tips to help your dog stay calm around fireworks.
1 Blackwell E, Bradshaw J and Casey R (2013) Fear responses to noises in domestic dogs: Prevalence, risk factors and co-occurrence with other fear related behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 145:15-25
2 Landsberg G, Beck A, Lopez A, Deniaud M, Araujo J and Milgram N (2015) Dog-appeasing pheromone collars reduce sound-induced fear and anxiety in beagle dogs: a placebo-controlled study doi: 10.1136/vr.103172
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