The 4th July, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve may seem like fun occasions to most, but when the fireworks start to light up the sky it can often cause a lot of stress for dogs and owners alike.
Fireworks might look pretty when exploding in the nights sky, but the smell, noise and flashes of color can all trigger anxiety in your dog. It is really important that you prepare your Cavapoo for firework season and here we explain how.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your dog cope with the stress and apprehension that fireworks can cause. Here we provide some top tips to help you plan ahead in order to ensure your Cavapoo stays calm during this colorful season.
Signs that your dog may be stressed by fireworks
According to the PDSA, 40% of pet owners say that their pets are terrified of fireworks. Dogs can show signs of stress or anxiety in a number of ways and these can be both visual and behavioural and include:
- Hiding away
- Barking, howling or whining more than usual
- Scratching at doors
- Chewing at furniture
- Ears pulled back
- Tail between the legs
- Refusing to eat
- Becoming increasingly clingy with their owners
Top tips for preparing your dog for fireworks
No one likes to see their four-legged friend scared or distressed when fireworks are let off, but there are some things that you can do in order to minimise their anxiety.
- Get your pet used to loud bangs
This is not a massive issue in our house as with two very loud children bouncing around the place our house is constantly full of noise. If your dog is used to living in an environment that is more serene, then why not try playing some desensitising music that contains softer sounds of fireworks in order to get them used to intermittent banging
- Make sure your dog’s details are up to date
According to the American Kennel Club, it’s largely believed that Independence Day is the day when the highest number of dogs run away. Therefore, it is always best to be prepared just in case your Cavapoo was to escape. Make sure that their microchip has the latest information recorded and that they are wearing a collar should the worst happen. To prevent your dog from fleeing when they hear fireworks, make sure that they are kept indoors and that your house and garden are secure so that there is no chance of a quick getaway.
- Provide a den
If your dog has a safe place, such as a crate, then you might find them skulking off to hide here during firework season. It is really important therefore that you make this area as comfortable as possible and remember to add some familiar smells. This will be reassuring for them if you are not around to comfort them yourself (such as late at night).
How to keep your dog calm during fireworks
Cavapoos are renowned for certain behavioral traits such as separation anxiety, so it is not unusual for them to be very clingy. You will probably find that this is heightened around Autumn time when fireworks become more frequent when they constantly want to be by your side. If this is the case, then it is really important that you:
- Stay calm
If you can, try and make sure that you or someone your dog knows, and trusts are with them on nights when there maybe fireworks. When you hear the first bursts of explosions going off, do your best not to react. Dogs pick up on our own stress so if you can keep calm then you are showing your Cavapoo that there is nothing to be worried about. If your dog does start to show signs of stress, try not to fuss over them, simply soothe them with plenty of comforting words and gestures and get on with your evening as normal as possible. If you notice that you are unable to ease your dog’s stress and discomfort, then try placing a few pheromone sprays and diffusers around the house. These can be a good way of keeping nervous pets calm, but you will need to do this at least a couple of weeks ahead of fireworks night, for it to take effect.
- Keep your Cavapoo indoors
To prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by the noise and flashing of fireworks, make sure you keep them inside. Take them for an early walk and give them plenty of opportunities to go to the toilet before it gets dark. And whatever you do, do not be tempted to take them to any firework displays or demonstrations.
- Mask the sound of fireworks
Try and use TV, radio, or even white noise as a way to deflect from the sound of the explosions in the nights sky – especially if your dog is home alone. Close all curtains, windows and blinds to muffle any unwanted, outdoor noise.
Make sure that your dog has plenty of toys and treats to distract their attention and play with them if they are happy to do so. Ignore the fireworks yourself if you can, so as not to draw attention to them.
- Stick to your usual routine
Carry out your everyday tasks in exactly the same way as you normally would. Keeping your day to day routine will allow your dog to feel relaxed and will help to reduce any stress around the home.
- Natural Supplements
As a final resort and only after consulting with your vet, in order to reduce extreme anxiety why not consider using a natural supplement. These fast-acting relaxants work within 1-2 hours and are perfect to give to anxious dogs during firework season.
Longer-term solutions for firework anxiety for your dog
If your Cavapoo is very worried by fireworks or other loud noises, then they might need longer-term treatment. Behavior therapy is something which should be considered as it is a bespoke treatment that varies depending on the needs of the dog.
Therapy might focus on teaching your dog a consistent way to cope with loud noises, potentially using a den or crate to hide away when they’re worried. Your behaviorist may also recommend desensitization and counter-conditioning treatment, in order to gradually teach your dog that noises are not scary by associating them with something positive that your dog enjoys – like a treat or a game.
If you have pet insurance, then check your policy to see if behavioral therapy is included. To find out more read our blog on pet insurance for Cavapoos.
Although the loud crescendo of fireworks exploding at dusk might look amazing, it is important to consider the impact that they might be having on your Cavapoo. Loud noises and flashes of light can be truly terrifying to a dog and we should therefore do all that we can to minimize the effects on our Cavapoos so that we can all learn to live in ha