Top Tips for preparing your pets for the firework season

POSTED ON: Saturday 3rd October 2015
AUTHOR: Caroline Clark

Bonfire night is just around the corner and it’s NOW that we should be preparing our pets for the event.

As a veterinary nurse and animal behaviourist, I see lots of owners asking for help about a week or a day before bonfire night, which sadly is a bit too late.

Here are some top tips for helping prepare your pets for the firework season:

  1. Start by desensitising your pets to the sound of fireworks whilst doing something that they find pleasant. That might be grooming them, playing or giving them treats.
  2. The sound effect should be realistic. (see the free download below)
  3. Use a good sound system. Larger, better quality speakers produce a better sound.
  4. It must not be too loud. Remember that animals have much better hearing than us.
  5. GRADUALLY increase the sound. This process shouldn’t be rushed and may take some weeks.
  6. If your pet shows any signs of fear, go back to the volume setting where they were comfortable. Proceed more slowly.
  7. The aim is that with gradual increments, you can play the sound effect at a high setting without them showing fear.
  8. On the night make them a comfortable den in the quietest part of the house. Animals like to hide so let them.
  9. Close the curtains, turn on the lights and put on some music with a steady rock beat.
  10. Make sure that pets can’t escape. Keep doors, cat-flaps and windows closed.
  11. Make sure that you let your dog out to toilet before darkness falls and the festivities begin.
  12. If they show fear don’t try and cuddle them too much, this can reinforce the fearful behaviour. Instead provide support in a more upbeat/cheerful way.
  13. For dogs, give them something to chew to keep them occupied. Stuffed kongs are good.
  14. There are some good, natural products that have been shown to help calm stressed animals. Zylkene is one (see my previous blog). Pheromone therapy is another -Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats.
  15. Sarah Heath, a World renowned behaviourist (who I was lucky to study under) and Dogs Trust have teamed up and provided free downloads of firework sound effects.  I have made them available for you here:
Click to download your free sound effects

If your pets are scared of fireworks or already have a phobia of other loud noises, take a look at my download on Systematic Desensitisation and Counter-conditioning.

Useful products