Dogs Trust Ballymena urges dog owners to prep ahead of ‘firework season’
With Halloween events on the horizon, Dogs Trust Ballymena recommends owners prep ahead of the firework season, as it can be a stressful time for our four-legged friends.
Dogs Trust’s National Dog Survey completed by 369,389 dog owners covering 440,759 dogs in the UK asked questions about a range of dog behaviours. The charity has issued advice to owners on how to take care of their canine friends during this time, as 45% of respondents noticed that their dog was not always calm when fireworks were going off.
By taking preventative steps, owners can reduce the likelihood of noise fears developing in their dogs. Dogs Trust Ballymena urges owners to visit its website for full guidance on how to help dogs stay safe and settled during fireworks including:
• Plan ahead – Be prepared for local firework displays to limit any surprises and to make arrangements so your dog isn’t left alone. Ask neighbours and use social media to find out about upcoming events or parties. Prepare their environment in advance, such as closing curtains, keeping lights and the TV on and creating a safe space for them to retreat to.
• Teach pups to be relaxed with noises – Sounds Scary is a firework soundtrack which can help your puppy deal with distressing noises. Sounds Scary is not only backed by years of clinical experience, but it is also scientifically proven to be safe, effective and easy to use in the lead up to autumn festivities.
• Adapt your routine – Avoid taking your dog out when fireworks have started, gradually change their routine in the weeks leading up to events. For example, start walking them earlier in the day to allow them time to exercise and toilet before dark.
• Recognise the individual needs of your dog - Dogs can react very differently to fireworks. Some appear relaxed and unbothered by the whizzes and bangs; others show signs of anxiety or fear. They may show subtle signs, such as panting or licking their lips, finding somewhere to hide or seeking attention from their human family. Or they may show more obvious signs, such as pacing, barking or even toileting in the house. Whilst these signs can be related to fear of noise, they can also indicate other underlying health problems so please contact your vet for advice if you are concerned.
• Ensure your dog has an established safe space – Some dogs will benefit from having a safe place to retreat to should they feel worried by fireworks, whether or not they have previously shown signs of worry. Introduce this safe place well in advance and encourage them there by building up positive associations with their new ‘doggy den’. Other dogs will cope best by seeking reassurance, so give them attention and comfort if they seek this out. Some dogs may not seem worried, and its best to keep them occupied with their favourite items or activities so they don’t start to get anxious – experiment before the firework season begins, and slowly introduce them, to find out what they enjoy the most.
• Speak to your vet well ahead of fireworks events - They can help with advice and may also prescribe medication to help your dog cope. Medication can be extremely useful where dogs are fearful as it can not only help them cope during the fireworks event, but also stop their fear escalating after each event.
Jenna Kiddie, Head of Canine Behaviour at Dogs Trust said:
“Nearly half of all owners who responded to our survey said their dogs’ wellbeing was affected by fireworks. With autumn festivities such as Diwali, Halloween, and Bonfire Night fast approaching, it’s best to plan well before firework events start, to ensure dogs cope as well as possible. Fear of fireworks is worryingly common in dogs of all ages, and can develop over time, even if your dog hasn’t responded before. Dogs respond to fireworks in a range of different ways, so it’s crucial to have a clear plan, ahead of time, to help your own dog cope.”
Conor O’Kane, Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Ballymena, said:
“Fireworks season can be distressing for our four-legged friends, so it is important that owners prepare early.
“As we move into autumn and winter, there are lots of loud celebrations which take place, including Diwali, Halloween, and Bonfire Night.
“Noise-related fear is very common in dogs of all ages and can have an impact on their wellbeing. By following our top tips and advice, owners can help their dogs cope during this noisy period.”
The charity also recommends noting down how your dog reacted during the fireworks and what worked well to help them cope. It also advises to return to a normal routine following fireworks to help dogs settle down. If they were worried during fireworks, it is a good idea to seek professional help before the next firework season starts.
For detailed advice on preparing your dog for fireworks season visit:
Dogs Trust recommends dog owners to seek veterinary advice for any concerns. They can check if there are any contributing medical problems, and if necessary, refer you to a clinical behaviourist.