By Samantha Heffernan // October 2018
Fireworks night is fast approaching and although this is a fun and exciting time of displays and get-togethers for us humans, it can be a different story for our four-legged friends… So, let us put ourselves in the paws of our pooches for a moment and consider fireworks from their perspective...
To do that, we've given the floor to Coco, our faithful Labrador companion, who has some sage advice to offer!
Hi, my name's Coco (I'm the handsome boy below!) and this is Fireworks 101, so you can help keep your dogs calm and make fireworks season less scary.
Please don’t take me to any firework displays with you!
We pups love spending time with our humans, but it’s too loud and crowded at these displays for dogs. All the noises and people make us feel uncomfortable and anxious. We don't understand what fireworks are for, but they sure do make a lot of loud and sudden sounds! They look pretty for humans, but for us dogs, they're unpredictable and frightening.
During fireworks season, we love to go on our walks whilst it’s still light! Most people wait until after it's dark to set off their fireworks, so we can go out while it's still quiet and avoid any scary bangs that will startle us and make us want to go home early.
When it’s dark and we're all safely inside, we'd prefer to have dinner before any firework displays start. This way we can eat in peace, because we may get too anxious to eat later in the evening, when there are strange, loud noises going on outside. You could try and give us our dinner as part of an enrichment game, which might tire us out so we feel like going to bed soon after!
I find it helpful when my humans close all the windows, pull the curtains and put the television or radio on. It feels so snug, but also muffles the banging noises coming from outside, which makes them much less scary!
Sometimes, I still get a bit worried, so Mum and Dad usually prepare a safe space for me!
When I was a puppy, they used a nice comfy crate with lots of toys and blankets, where I could go to hide and feel protected if it all got too much. These days, I need a slightly bigger space! My humans like to give me enrichment games in here, too, or a delicious chew, so I have something to keep me busy if I'm struggling to settle down. If I'm distracted with something, I find it easier to ignore all the weird noises happening outside. My humans don’t make me stay in the safe space if I want to come out - they'll always let me come over and cuddle up with them when I need a bit of comfort and reassurance. They stay calm and don't say anything if I bark at the fireworks. All this makes me feel more confident and comfortable in my environment.
Things can’t be that bad if the humans aren't worried!
Ever since I was a teeny puppy, my family has been trying to make all those funny, loud noises seem normal for me. They use something called a "Sound CD". They started playing it at a low volume; it was so quiet, I don't think they could hear it at all! I sure could, though. They'd give me something to do (tasty chew time!) and focus on keeping me calm and quiet. Over time, they played the CD louder and louder. Now, I'm so used to all those weird bangs and sirens, I don't really mind when I hear them, even if it's not on the CD! I just snooze on through.
If you'd like to try the Sound CD with your puppy (or your adult dogs, because we're never too old to learn!), Dog School has one you can download right from their website! They have a few different versions, depending on what you'd like to start with. You can follow this link: click here
Where to go for more information...
Did you know that Dog School run seminars about fireworks and noise fears? They can teach you lots more tips and tricks for helping little (or big) dogs like me weather the holidays, so you should have a look here to see if there's one running near you! If there aren't any nearby, why not email your local school anyway for some advice?
Lots of love and hugs and bouncy kisses,
This fireworks night, please think about fireworks from your dog’s perspective
It can make the experience more enjoyable for us both!