Keeping your dog calm during fireworks

Keeping your dog calm during fireworks

If you thought Australian dogs have a tough time with fireworks, think again… I grew up in Sweden in the 90’s, and for one week of the year, this nanny state was transformed into a warzone. Back then, anyone could let off fireworks and the leadup to New Year’s Eve brought a cacophony of bangs, whistles and bright lights. And because Sweden is plunged into darkness for all of December, fireworks would go off at all hours.  

As a teenager I didn’t think about the safety concerns around fireworks, but I did worry about our poor family dog who was petrified of them. He spent most of the days leading up to New Year’s Eve hiding under my parent’s bed, refusing to come out. Poor Ludde!

Top tips how to keep your dog calm during fireworks. Displayed over an image of a dog licking its nose and a human covering its ears.

When I moved to Sydney, I was pleased to see a more controlled approach to fireworks. Dogs don’t endure weeks of tortures noise, but the bangs and lights at 9pm and 12am is something else altogether.

We live in the Inner West, surrounded by firework barges and the sound as they’re let off is deafening. Over the last few years, we’ve developed a New Year’s Eve plan to keep Ebba, our Staffy, as calm and comfortable as possible as we ring in the new year.

Every dog is different, and what works for us may not work for you, but I wanted to share our top 5 tips for keeping your dog calm during fireworks. If you have an anxious dog and you know they struggle on NYE, consult your vet. They’re always the best people to talk to.  

Create a safe space

If your dog is crate trained, the crate is a perfect safe space. If not, set up a quiet, comfortable area where your dog can retreat to. This can be a room with minimal windows such as a bathroom or even walk in wardrobe. Make the area cozy with your dog's bed, their favourite toys and blanket and make sure they have access to water.

Close windows and curtains

To muffle the sound as much as possible, close all windows, curtains and blinds. This will also keep the bright lights out.

Stay calm

Dogs pick up on their owners' emotions so stay calm! When you remain calm, it reassures your dog that everything is okay. Try not to fuss over your dog and avoid comforting them excessively, as this can reinforce anxious behaviour.

Leave your dog alone

It’s ok to cuddle and hold your dog if that’s what they need, but it’s also ok to leave them be. If they want to hide under your bed, leave them there. They may also prefer to walk around and howl – let them. Once your dog has found their safe space (even if it’s not the one you set up for them) try not to disturb them.

Stay at home

No one wants to miss a great New Year’s Eve party, and with a bit of planning you don’t have to. Be the host and throw a party at your place. If that’s not an option, get home before the fireworks begin so you’re there to comfort your dog. We all know the fireworks are better on TV anyway!

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