Fireworks season can be a stressful time for you and your Labrador. Almost without warning your dog will be exposed to new loud noises and strange lights in the sky that can cause them to be startled and fearful of the new sights and sounds. Chances are your Labrador will only experience fireworks once or twice a year so its certainly not a run of the mill experience for them.
Your Labrador is likely to experience some sort of anxiety during fireworks season so here are a few tips to help you prepare and deal with the stress that your dog may experience.
- We know that fireworks season is just around the corner so start preparing now. Play fireworks noises in the background in the run up to firework season and condition your dog to the noise over time. You can ask your smart speaker to play fireworks noises while you feed your dog their meal or some tasty treats. Have the noise playing in the background over the course of a couple of weeks, start with the volume very low and gradually increase it over days or weeks depending on your dogs reactions.
- Knowledge is power so do your homework, ask neighbours to let you know when they will set off fireworks so you can be well prepared.
- In anticipation for the fireworks starting you can make sure the TV is on nice and loud or have some music playing in the background to muffle any fireworks sounds and close the curtains and blinds to avoid them seeing the bright flashes outside
- Create a den so your Lab has somewhere safe to rest during the evening. You can create a makeshift den out of sheets or blankets over a table, so they have somewhere dark and quiet to take themselves to. Fill their new den with comfortable bedding, great toys, and treats.
- Have a designated area of the house that you and your dogs will be in during a display, somewhere they are familiar with and will be comfortable. By choosing one area to be confined in you will prevent them pacing the house looking for the source of the bangs and flashes.
- Comfort your dog . . . Often it is advised to ignore your dog during fireworks. I am not a fan of this approach and I would actively encourage you to comfort your Lab and do all you can to keep them calm. If your dog is scared, they look to you for comfort and reassurance so please give it to them to help keep them calm. Remember that dogs are great at picking up on humans body language so ensure you keep calm… show them that you are not worried, that will really help them feel reassured.
- Medication can be effective in extreme cases of anxiety so if you have a dog that suffers very badly during fireworks season then do speak with your Vet in plenty of time to see what medication could work for your situation. For more moderate cases of anxiety it can be useful to introduce a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) Diffuser which plugs into your wall sockets. Grab one in advance and plug it in near to where your Lab sleep. A DAP diffuser can help some dogs stay calm and reduce anxiety during stressful situations.
What will you be doing this firework season to help your Lab, share your experiences of what works well for you.