How to give your dog a stress-free bonfire night

On Bonfire Night, a fireworks display can be a fun family event, but it could be very stressful for your beloved pet. Follow our tips and help to give your dog a stress-free bonfire night.

Plan ahead

If you want a long-term solution to help your pooch stay calm when there are fireworks, you can gradually desensitise them to the sound. This process can take a few weeks. You’ll need to play firework sound effects on your phone or stereo for between five and ten minutes three times a day. Increase the volume until your pooch shows that they can hear the sounds. Next time, you can increase the volume slightly if they’ve stopped reacting. When they no longer respond to the sounds, you can start developing a positive association with the sound by offering them a treat or their favourite toy while the sound effects play. Keep going until they get excited when they hear firework sounds.

Exercise your dog when it’s light

Even if you successfully desensitise your doggo to firework sounds, it’s still a good idea to take steps to keep them safe on bonfire night. Take them for a long walk when it’s still light, and fireworks are less likely to go off. That way, you’ll tire them out, and they might sleep through the whole thing!

If your dog tends to get very stressed during fireworks, you can feed them earlier too, in case they lose their appetite later.

Create a safe place

Having a safe place to go during fireworks can comfort your dog and make them less anxious. You can use a crate if that’s what they’re used to. Draping a blanket over the top can make their crate a cosy haven by muffling the sound. Don’t confine your pooch to one place, as that could add to their stress; let them choose where they want to be. They might prefer to curl up on the sofa next to you.

Make sure they have access to treats and their favourite toys. A Kong stuffed with their favourite snacks can help to distract them.

Prepare your home

Predicting how a dog will react to loud noises isn’t always easy. A fireworks display in the distance might be fine, but a loud bang close to home can stress even the calmest pooch. It’s essential to be prepared, no matter what happens. Ensure your house and garden are as secure as possible in case your four-legged friend tries to get out. Ensure your dog is microchipped so they can be returned to you quickly if they run off.

Turning on the TV or playing calming music can help mask the sound. Dogs can also react to flashes of light from fireworks. Drawing the curtains and keeping the lights on will help to prevent this.

Carry on as normal

Your pooch will tune in to your feelings and react accordingly. If you’re nervous, they could be too, so try and carry on as normally as possible. Giving your doggo fuss and playing with them as usual is OK. That way, you can show them there’s nothing to worry about. Of course, you can comfort and reassure them if they show signs of stress or worry.

Ask your vet for advice if you have any concerns about your dog becoming overly stressed or anxious.

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