How to prepare your dog for fireworks
Why do I need to prepare my dog for fireworks?
Dogs have excellent hearing, so loud bangs can cause them to startle. This, mixed with bright lights in the sky and potential crowds, can cause a lot of stress in some dogs.
Although fireworks will always be startling to a dog, you can help prepare them for when the time comes and help to make the sounds less scary.
What you’ll need to prepare your dog
- Recording of fireworks – you can find this in our video below, on an app or you can buy a CD with these sounds
- Speakers – for better sound quality to make it more realistic
Before you begin your sessions, make sure you have listened to the sounds and experimented with the volume when your dog is out of the house.
This training should only be carried out when there’s no risk of real fireworks going off, ie not during or close to firework season.
How to prepare your dog for fireworks
We recommend starting this training around four to six months before bonfire night so that you have plenty of time to get them used to the sounds.
If you have a puppy, you can start sooner, and this can form a part of your puppy’s socialisation plan. Introducing them to these sounds when they’re young gives them the best start in life, helping to teach them that loud bangs don't have to be scary.
The longer you can prepare the better and, if your dog has an existing fear of fireworks, we recommend allowing even more time for training.
1. Start by playing the sounds quietly (barely audible) when your dog is relaxing
Your dog should hardly notice at first, aside from an initial ear twitch. Keep the sessions short (about one or two minutes is fine at first) and keep the volume the same for several days. Build up to playing the sounds to five minutes at a time, a few times a day.
2. Increase the volume gradually
Only increase the volume by a small amount when you are confident that your dog is not showing any concern. Make sure your dog is relaxed and calm. Continue increasing until the sounds are at a moderate level.
3. Introduce a chew or Kong
Once you are happy that your dog is comfortable with the sounds, you can introduce a chew or food filled toy straight after you begin playing the sounds. They’ll learn that firework sounds mean a tasty treat!
4. Keep going
Continue as above until your dog is comfortable with the firework sounds reasonably loud. This may take several weeks to several months to achieve, depending on your dog. Remember, immediately after you press play, give your dog a long-lasting chew.
5. Don’t be afraid to go back a step
If your dog stops eating when you are playing the sounds they may be too concerned about the noise – so reduce the volume to a rate they were last comfortable.
All dogs are individual and will progress at different rates, so be patient and only increase the volume when your dog is ready.
6. On the day
It’s still very important to prepare your dog and home for the actual event even if you have prepared them well with this training.
Real fireworks may be louder and still startle your dog so, on the day, make sure you:
- walk them early, while it’s still light
- draw your curtains
- put on the TV or play music to muffle the sounds
This training may not be suitable for all dogs, even if they are new to fireworks. Some dogs are particularly sound sensitive or have had a bad experience with loud bangs – if this is the case, then talk to your vet about contacting a qualified behaviourist via the Animal Behaviour and Training Council.
What if my dog is already scared of fireworks?
If your dog has an existing fear of fireworks, then always discuss this with your vet or behaviourist.
Every dog is different, and they are likely to need a very individual behaviour plan to help them prepare for fireworks.