Fireworks & Halloween Advice
Dogs’ hearing is approximately four times more sensitive than us humans and they can hear much higher frequency sounds than people, so you can imagine how loud the whizz, pop and bang of fireworks can be for dogs!
Please speak to your vet if your dog already has an existing fear or phobia of fireworks or loud noises. In some cases, a dog might be severely distressed, and a vet may suggest medical intervention to prevent severe fear/welfare issues which can be implemented before the fireworks begin.
Tips for a trick free Halloween:
- Never force your dog to wear a dog costume as they may present health and behaviour risks and could also exacerbate fears. Loosely tied festive doggie bandanas are usually more acceptable for dogs
- Don’t force your dog to receive any unwanted attention, even from family members, as they may not recognise people in costumes and exhibit fear.
- Keep treats and sweets away from your furry friends. Chocolate, raisins, grapes, and the sweetener xylitol are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything he shouldn’t, please call your local veterinary practice immediately and always store their out of hours’ emergency number on your phone.
- Please think twice before bringing your dog taking your dog ‘trick or treating’ as the extra excitement around the event and meeting strangers may cause them distress.
We don't recommend taking your dog Trick or Treating, but that doesn’t mean your dog needs to be left out of the fun. As well as keeping your dog safe, it is important to ensure that you can make the night as enjoyable and fear-free as possible by keeping him distracted with treats and games, and ensuring he consistently has the opportunity to move away from anything/one that he may find frightening. Give your dog a Kong or K9 Connectable jam packed with tasty goodies, which will help keep his mind occupied and give him something to do.
How to prepare your dog before fireworks begin
- Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks as fear may make your dog try to escape
- Ensure the details recorded against your dog’s microchip are up to date and your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag (so you can be reunited quickly, should your dog get out)
- Walk your dog before dark
- Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as he may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
- Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings, it will help him cope with the noise.
- Provide a safe hiding place – at noisy times around Halloween, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table.
- Close the curtains, turn the lights on, play rhythmic music and turn up the volume (not too loudly so as to frighten your dog) on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises.
How to help your dog during fireworks
- If your dog seeks comfort from you, provide comfort and reinforce that there is nothing to be afraid of by acting calmly and reassuringly.
- Don't leave your dog alone in the house during the fireworks period – he may panic, and this could result in an injury.
- Keep your dog busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep his mind off the noises. However, if he just wants to hide away then don't force him to come out of his hiding place, allow him to stay where he feels safe.
- Be extra careful when opening the door as your dog may escape; if possible, try to ensure there is another closed door between your dog and your front door.
Longer term treatment: What to do if your dog has a fear of fireworks or loud noises
- If you think that your dog gets worried by loud noises, please contact your vet to see if there's an underlying health problem first, and to help you find a qualified behaviourist, if needed. Your vet will also be able to discuss whether medication might be helpful.
- Programmes of behaviour therapy recommended will vary for each dog, but may include the following elements:
- Establishing a consistent way for your dog to cope. This often involves teaching a dog to use a den to hide when he is worried. This might require you to gradually change your dog's 'coping' response away from one that relies on your attention so that he's more able to cope with loud noises if they occur when you're not home.
- Gradually teaching your dog that noises are not scary through a process called desensitisation and counter-conditioning. This usually involves playing recorded versions of the scary noises which start out at such a low volume that your dog is not worried by them. The volume and direction of sounds are changed over time; this is done slowly so that your dog does not show any signs of fear and builds up their resilience. The sounds should also be associated with something that he enjoys, such as high value treats or a game.
- With this in mind, we have added 'Sounds Scary' below which helps your dog to become slowly accustomed to the sounds of fireworks over a period of weeks or months.
- Sounds Scary is not only backed by years of clinical experience; it is also scientifically proven to be safe, effective and easy to use.
- Try it out with your dog today, make sure to read the instruction booklet first!
Sounds Scary Booklet Download
Sounds Scary Fireworks