Firework season and other loud and unexpected noises can be stressful for many dogs because they are unpredictable. Dogs can develop a fear of fireworks at any time in their life. Generally speaking, puppies look to their owners for reassurance and if they can see that you are not fearful or behaving any differently when you hear fireworks, they have no reason to fear and can often just accept them.
It does however only take one frightening experience, such as one making them jump when they go outside to the toilet for them to suddenly develop a fear that can cause them distress.
There are a number of things you can do to help your puppy be prepared for and to cope with the firework season to ensure they feel safe, secure and reassured. We will then look at what you can do during the actual fireworks to make it as stress free and non-eventful as possible for your puppy.
Ensure your puppy is wearing an up to date ID tag on their collar with your name, address and phone number and that their microchip contact details are up to date.
2. Learn the Signs of Distress
It is really important to be familiar with possible signs of distress to look out for if your puppy is stressed by the sound of fireworks. These may include:
- Vocalisation, such as whining, barking, howling, growling or whimpering
- Panting, drooling or licking their lips.
- Hiding, such as under furniture or behind the sofa.
- Being clingy to you which could be staying close to you, following you around or even jumping up.
- Physically trembling or shaking.
- Generally not settling and pacing up and down.
- Holding the tail between their legs.
- Loss of appetite induced by fear.
- Trying to escape, this can happen in extreme cases.
If your puppy is showing any of these signs of distress when they hear fireworks, it may be necessary to seek guidance from your vet for additional support. Some signs are more subtle than others and can indicate the severity of the fear.
3. Build Confidence around Loud Noises
Long before bonfire night or new year celebrations you can gradually begin getting your puppy used to a wide variety of sounds and music. Make sure you start with quiet background music and gauge your puppies response. Gradually turning up the music as they are ready and accepting of it. Gradually introducing music with more rhythm and drums can be a good way to prepare for fireworks.
This process of desensitisation and counter conditioning should be done very gradually starting with very quiet, low frequencies and building up with the main aim for your puppy to be able to remain settled and calm even in the presence of unexpected, loud noises. More information can be found on this alongside the above Sound Scary collection.
4. Pheremone Treatment
Using a pheromone treatment such as the Adaptil CALM diffuser is clinically proven to help reduce signs of fear and anxiety and can help your puppy to feel calm during fireworks. It works at its best when it is turned on all of the time and should be introduced at least 7 days before the start of the fireworks in the area your puppy spends most of the time.
5. When are the Local Firework Displays
By finding out when all of the big firework events in your local area are going to be, you can plan ahead as to when the fireworks are going to be at their worst and plan your evenings accordingly so you can be around to support and reassure your puppy. You could also talk to neighbours to find out who is going to be having fireworks nearby in the garden and the they will be so you can be prepared to keep your puppy safe.
Build your puppies confidence around loud noises and provide calmness in the home with an Adaptil CALM diffuser.
As bonfire night or specific firework displays approach, it is important to manage your puppies environment to keep it as calm as possible. Here are some things that can really help:
1. Make the Home and Garden Safe
2. Make the Home Calm
3. Create a Safe Space
During the Fireworks
Even when you have been well prepared in advance for the fireworks, they can still take you by surprise. Here are some useful ways to help your puppy cope during the fireworks and things you can do to make is as relaxed as possible.
1. Act Calm and Relaxed
The most important thing is that you act calm and ignore the fireworks. Show your puppy that the fireworks are not even worth noticing and go about your business. Your puppy will be looking to you for reassurance and watching how you react. Try not to innocently reward fear behaviours, but when your puppy is not reacting and settling calmly, be sure to give plenty of praise and reward.
2. Avoid Taking your Puppy Outside.
Whilst the fireworks are going on, keep your puppy safe inside. Certainly don’t be tempted to take them to bonfire parties or firework displays with you. Take them out to the toilet earlier on in the evening and then keep them safe inside until the fireworks have settled down.
3. Activity Toys, Puzzles and Food Dispensing Toys.
There are so many amazing puzzle toys and games and things like licky mats and kongs that can be used as a great way to keep your puppy focused and distracted whilst the fireworks are going on outside.
4. Engage in Favourite Games and Activities.
When the cognitive (learning) part of the brain is working, your puppy is less likely to be anxious or engaging the emotional part of their brain. Therefore, engaging your puppy in their favourite games, tricks, training commands can be a great way to stimulate and distract your puppy from what is going on outside.
5. Watch a Film and Cosy Down
Puppy cuddles and a movie night are just the best and a great way to reassure your puppy that everything is right with the world and the TV can be a welcome distraction from the sounds of outside.
6. Other Calming Remedies
We have already mentioned the Calm diffuser but there are 2 other products that can also really help with fireworks, both in terms of preparation and if you puppy is showing signs of distress at loud noises.
Adaptil Junior Collar
The Adaptil Junior Collar is one of the best ways to help prepare your puppy for bonfire night as it is on them all the time wherever you go and supports them in learning better and faster whilst soaking up all the calming pheromones.
These tasty Adaptil Chews are a great addition to your treat cupboard especially around bonfire night and new year and can be used to help to settle your in their safe space with their fast acting calming effect.
Fireworks need not be a scary experience for your puppy, especially if you put these measures in place to prepare them and keep them safe.
What if my Puppy is Really Distressed?
Do not struggle on alone if you are concerned about your puppies wellbeing and feel they are more stressed than they should be. If in doubt, contact your vet to discuss your concerns.