Planning ahead can help dogs cope with the fireworks season, whatever time of year that is in your country.  What tips do dog welfare organisations offer for keeping dogs safe and happy, reducing their stress levels, and avoiding incident, at this time of year?

How do you know if your dog is scared of fireworks? The signs of fear will depend to some extent on your dog’s personality and the degree to which they are bothered by the noise. Your dog may pace up and down the room, or try to climb in your lap. Some dogs will lie in their beds looking unhappy, while others will shake, pant, drool or try to hide.

Our dachshund clearly finds firework sounds disturbing.  He turns around and pulls hard to go home the moment fireworks go off, even if we have only just started a walk.  Even when inside, the sound of fireworks upsets him, and he can’t settle or sleep when we are relaxing as a family.  

Fireworks and dogs

Getting your dog used to unfamiliar noises in advance is recommended by all dog welfare organisations, although it’s probably too late for this year’s firework season.  The Dogs Trust has some excellent free downloads and accompanying how-to-guides.  These contain a collection of specifically recorded noises for dogs to get used to in a controlled manner, including domestic noises, traffic, fireworks and thunder.

The Kennel Club suggests seeking help from an experienced animal behaviourist if your pet is severely noise phobic, rather than trying sound CDs.

  • Check where and when public firework displays are being held in your local area.  If people tend to have their own fireworks at home in your area, you may want to ask immediate neighbours if they are planning anything.
  • If possible, walk your dog before dusk so he or she has done their business before fireworks start. 
  • Shut all doors and windows in your home, and draw the curtains. This will block out flashes of light and may help to reduce the noise level of fireworks. 
  • Remain calm with your dog, and provide comfort and cuddles if your dog comes to you.  
  • If your dog wants to hide somewhere in the house, make sure they have a comfortable safe haven, and allow them to stay there for as long as they want to stay there.  
  • Don’t take your dog to a firework display just so that you can go, and don’t leave your dog home unsupervised during firework season if you don’t know how they are going to react. 
  • Don’t imagine that if your dog is forced to face up to his or her fear of fireworks that fear will evaporate.  Even if your dog seems OK, he or she may be stressed.  
  • Don't reprimand or punish your dog if they react fearfully to the unfamiliar sound of fireworks, as this may only add to their distress and will make the situation worse in the long run.  
  • The RSPCA suggests that pheromone diffusers, which disperse calming chemicals into the room, may be a good option for some dogs.  These should be used only after getting advice from your dog’s veterinarian. 
  • Watch out for firework debris in parks and gardens. 

And finally, some essential general advice. Ensure sure your dog is micro-chipped (it’s a legal requirement in many countries) and that your contact details are up to date on the microchip register.  Ensure that your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag during firework season so they can be more easily returned if they accidentally escape.

If you can, enjoy the fireworks!  If you can’t, keep your dog safe and spend a night at home together.