It’s Swiss National Day tomorrow and many of the evening celebrations are likely to end with a bang – many town and private celebrations finish with fireworks. These are of course exciting for us hoomans … There is just something magical about throwing your head back and watching colours burst into the night sky like confetti.
However, put yourself into your dogs paws and fireworks are terrifying. A dog’s survival instinct makes them naturally afraid of loud noises but fireworks are so much more than just noise to your doggy.
They come with no warning signs and are bright, erratic, and leave a burning smell in the air. They must think the world is exploding!
Dogs have jumped fences, broken chains, torn through screen doors, and even leaped through glass doors—sometimes seriously injuring themselves in the process—in a desperate (and futile) effort to escape the bombardment. Shelters report the highest influx of lost dogs following National festivals and some poor dogs that run away are never found.
Of course, not all dogs are scared of fireworks, but unless you 100% know otherwise, we recommend trying at least some of the following 10 survival tips to make an evening of firework dispays less stressful for your dog. This way your Swiss National Day should go with a bang for all the right reasons!
Do not leave your dog home alone and do not take your dog with you to watch the fireworks! Make alternative arrangements if you plan to go out or if you live very close to a public fireworks display. You can drop your dog at a friend or relatives house or a secluded boarding facility for the night or even hire an experienced pet sitter to stay with them. This way if your dog does get scared, they are somewhere safe with proper supervision.
Create a safe spot in your home. If you are unable to take your dog somewhere away from fireworks, giving them a spot where they feel safe can help. Maybe your dog already has a safe spot, like a crate, a particular room or even under your bed. Make sure that this spot is easily accessible for them during the main event so they can hide if they want to.
Remove the visual stimulation. There is no way to cover up the noise of fireworks, but you can still do your dog a favour by closing your windows, blinds, and curtains so they do not have to see the bright flashes of lights.
Reassure your dog. Speaking to your dog in a calm soothing voice while petting them will also help ease their anxiety. Getting mad or forcing your dog to “face their fears” will also only make the experience harder for them.
Stay calm. Dogs are very in-tune with our emotions, body language, and tone of voice. If you make a big deal out of the fireworks by being scared or even just worried about your dog, they can pick up on this and will assume they have good reason to also be worried.
In extreme cases, consider anti-anxiety tools. There are many different options such as Thundershirts, calming pheromones, supplements, and as a last resort, medication that can help to reduce your pup’s stress.
Be sure to feed and water your dog before the fireworks begin. If your dog is extra anxious about fireworks, they may not want to eat or drink once the noise begins. An empty stomach is one more stressor you can help your dog avoid. Also be sure to let them outside to go to the bathroom beforehand.
Tire your dog out. A tired dog is a calm dog, so be sure to get as much exercise in before the festivities begin. The goal is to have your dog as sleepy as possible when the fireworks begin. So a walk around the block may not cut it. Try going for a run or playing fetch at the park.
Give your dog something to do for the evening. A few minutes before the fireworks start, give your dog a special treat they can enjoy instead of paying attention to the loud noises. A Kong frozen with doggy peanut butter, a bully stick, an antler, or any other type of long lasting chew, will be the perfect thing to help keep their mind occupied.
Preparation for next year – It is possible to train a dog not to mind fireworks, the same way a hunting dog doesn’t mind a gunshot. However, desensitising your dog to noises does not happen overnight. The idea is to play your dog a quiet recording of fireworks paired with a tasty treat. Then slowly increasing the volume over months. Going too loud too fast can backfire making your dog more nervous of the sound. We highly recommend asking for help from an experienced person before starting this process.
How Can The Woof Club Help You?
We hope that you find our tips to help you & your dog survive an evening of fireworks useful. If you have any of your own tips we would love to hear from you. We would also love to hear about how you and your dog have coped with an evening firework display. Please contact us via our contact form or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make Swiss National Day enjoyable for all the family by taking a few minutes to think about it from your dog’s perspective well in advance of the evenings events.