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Dogs Trust issues advice for owners to help dogs cope with New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Credit: Dogs Trust
With many people planning to see in the New Year with fireworks, Dogs Trust Bridgend and Dogs Trust Cardiff are issuing advice to help owners prepare their pets who might be scared by the unexpected bangs and blasts of fireworks as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.

Angela Wetherall, Rehoming Centre Manager (Wales) said:

“Fear of fireworks is worryingly common in dogs of all ages, and it can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and affect dogs at any time in their lives.
“There are lots of things dog owners can do to help make fireworks less stressful including having a clear plan, ahead of time, to help their dog cope. Dogs will respond to fireworks in different ways, some will want to find a cosy hiding place, whilst others will want reassurance. It is important to recognise the individual needs of your dog, letting them do what makes them feel most comfortable, if it is safe to do so.”
The charity urges owners to visit its website for full guidance on how to help dogs stay safe and settled during fireworks. The top tips include:
  • Plan ahead – Be prepared for local firework displays to limit any surprises and to make arrangements so your dog isn’t left alone. Ask neighbours and use social media to find out about upcoming events or parties. Prepare your dog’s environment in advance, such as closing curtains, keeping lights and the TV onand creating a safe space for them to retreat to.  Learn more about how to plan ahead and download the Dogs Trust action planner at: dogstrust.org.uk/fireworkplanning.
  • Teach pups to be relaxed with noises Sounds Scary is a firework soundtrack which can help your puppy deal with distressing noises. Learn more about how to introduce your pup to Sounds Scary on the Dogs Trust website: dogstrust.org.uk/fireworkplanning.
  • Adapt your routine – Avoid taking your dog out when fireworks have started, gradually change their routine in the weeks leading up to events. For example, start walking them earlier in the day to allow them time to exercise and toilet before dark.
  • Recognise the individual needs of your dog – Dogs can react very differently to fireworks. Some appear relaxed and unbothered by the whizzes and bangs; others show signs of anxiety or fear. They may show subtle signs, such as panting or licking their lips, finding somewhere to hide or seeking attention from their human family. Or they may show more obvious signs, such as pacing, barking or even toileting in the house. Whilst these signs can be related to fear of noise, they can also indicate other underlying health problems so please contact your vet for advice if you are concerned.
  • Ensure your dog has an established safe space – Some dogs will benefit from having a safe place to retreat to should they feel worried by fireworks, whether or not they have previously shown signs of worry. Introduce this safe place well in advance to build positive associations with their new ‘doggy den’. Other dogs will cope best by seeking reassurance, so give them attention and comfort if they seek this out. Some dogs may not seem worried, and its best to keep them occupied with their favourite items or activities so they don’t start to get anxious.
  • Speak to your vet well ahead of fireworks events – They can help with advice and may also prescribe medication to help your dog cope. Medication can be extremely useful where dogs are fearful as it can not only help them cope during the fireworks event, but also stop their fear escalating after each event. 
Angela Wetherall, Rehoming Centre Manager (Wales) adds:
“We recommend noting down how your dog reacted during the fireworks and what worked well to help them cope in preparation for the next firework event. We would also advise returning to a normal routine as quickly as possible following fireworks to help dogs settle down. If they were worried during fireworks, it is a good idea to seek professional help well before the next firework season starts.”