We find fireworks, beautiful, exciting, festive… We don’t mind the noise so much, it’s all worth the spectacle and it’s kind of part of the show, right?
What if you had absolutely no idea what fireworks were, no idea that they were meant for fun? no idea they were harmless? What if you were just enjoying a quiet evening and suddenly heard explosions and gunshots all around you? so close and so loud that you could feel the walls vibrating?
Remember: your dog does not know they are meant for fun, he does not know they are harmless, he does not know that he is safe and “just fine”! So when you know the fireworks are coming, think about your little teammate!
With a puppy or a dog that does not seem scared: act preventively
Do not let him fend for himself or ignore him (acting like nothing’s happening will not help!), instead do something fun with him like games and playful cuddling, give him a yummy Kong or a tasty bone (and stay with him while he enjoys it). Mostly give him your presence, don’t smother him of course but stick together.
Remember: just because he did not seem scared last time does not mean he will not be this time or next time, we tend to miss a lot of signs of stress until they’re obvious, and fear can also develop with age and experience.
With a puppy or a dog that shows signs of stress
Do not let him fend for himself or ignore him (acting like nothing’s happening will not help!), yes I know I just repeated myself, but it’s important. Your presence is reassuring to your dog, do not underestimate it. Try to offer a superyummy Kong or spread some kibble around you for him to look for and pick up. Allow him to stick to you, talk to him calmly; do not smother him but rather sit next to him, and allow him to come close if he wants. If he goes and hides under the bed, or in the bathroom or in the bathtub, let him (did you know bathtubs actually provide protection from static electricity during thunderstorms?)
Other things that may help
Lower the blinds and turn on the lights to dim the outside light flashes
Play music or the TV to get some other noise going
If you have a downstairs/basement playroom it might feel safer
The wrapping feeling of a T-shirt (Thundershirt if you have one) can bring reassurance and comfort
Rescue drops, Bach flower remedies, and homeopathy can help, ask your vet but be wary of sedatives which may mask the outside signs of stress without relieving the actual fear.
Most important: Stay safe
Do keep your dog on leash when fireworks are likely to go off. every year hundreds of pets get lost running off in sheer panic.
If you think your dog might panic, consider using both a collar and a harness (attaching the leash to both) to walk him that night.
If your dog is hiding in a corner or under a bed, remember that he might be scared and react defensively if you try to pull him out. Call him or lure him out with food if you must (or even better just leave him be and stay close until he feels good enough to come out himself)