When you're a dog owner watching fireworks, your oohs and aahs can quickly turn to uh oh if your dog gets scared. The sights of sounds we enjoy so much can easily frighten our dog, causing them to make a quick break for it. This can lead to major injury or even a lost pet.
But, similar to leaving your dog at home on holidays or taking them to the beach, knowing how your dog might react – and how to handle it – can help you both enjoy the show.
Here are some tips for managing your dog before and during a fireworks display.
Before the bangs
To keep your dog calm, cool and collected, you need to get your prep started well ahead of sundown the night of the show.
Create a safe space inside for your dog to hide
We all know the value of our own space – and your dog's no different. If your dog gets spooked by fireworks, they need to know they have a place to retreat to. If your dog sleeps in a crate, cover it with a towel (leave one side open) so they can feel safe there. You can also cover a table with a sheet (again leaving one side open) for a makeshift shelter. Alternatively, a cosy place such as a bedroom with the curtains or blinds drawn can be a safe haven.
Plan for the worst
You know how crafty your dog can be. So you need to be prepared if they get really riled up and flee in fear. Make sure your dog is microchipped and your details are updated on the microchip registrar. Also make sure they're wearing their ID tag.
Keep it tight (security, that is)
Of course, it's even better if you can avoid the whole dog escape thing in the first place with tight garden and yard borders. Check for holes or other sneaky spaces your dog can squeeze through in your fence. You'd be surprised what tight spots a motivated, scared dog can fit through. So if in doubt, close it up.
Inside, make sure all doors and windows are securely closed. If your dog needs to go outside, take them out yourself with a harness and leash. And while an open door policy might be good for making friends and having parties, it's a bad idea for dog safety. Make sure people close the door behind them on the way in and out.
Talk to the pros
Your vet can give you some helpful tips on helping your pet through a loud, bright night full of fireworks. Some advice might include using Dog Appeasing Pheromones in addition to prescription treatments, which can help ease your dog's anxiety.
Match your dog in soft cotton bamboo while a luxurious aroma fills your home.
Administer any anti-anxiety medications your vet has prescribed with ample time before the fireworks start. Discuss timings with your vet to ensure the medications have maximum effectiveness.
Keep your dog indoors
On nights that are known for fireworks, such as New Year's Eve, plan on keeping your dog inside. Close the blinds and curtains to minimise the flashes from the fireworks. If your dog usually sleeps outside, keep them inside. Chances are the fireworks will continue long after you go to bed, so you won't be able to spring into action if your dog loses the plot.
When they get scared and try to quickly escape, dogs can seriously injure themselves or even choke themselves with their leashes or ropes. So try to keep them untethered to move indoors freely within their safe space.
Like owner, like dog
Be the calm you want to see in your dog. You remaining relaxed can help your dog do the same. Fussing over your pet might increase their anxiety. Don't make a big production out of the night. If you normally watch TV on the couch with your dog, do the same so they feel comfortable in their routine.
Giving your dog a Lick Mat or other boredom buster is a yummy, fun way to distract your pet from what's going on outside. Noise such as TV shows, movies or music may help muffle the intense booms in the sky. And remember: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Classical music has even been proven to aid in anxiety relief for dogs.
Have some fun before the show starts
Take your dog for a big long walk, or tire them out in the park with a fun, energetic ball play session on the day of the fireworks. Then feed them a little later and maybe even slightly more after exercising. A well fed, tired dog can be a more relaxed one.
With some forward thinking, we help ensure both you and your pet ring in the new year – or any other major celebration – without worry.