How to calm your dog during fireworks

We all remember what it was like before our furry friends joined the family. Bonfire Nights and New Year’s Eves were filled with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as we watched the pop and crackle of the night-time displays. But the loud noises made by these wintery light shows can be frightening for our pets, which means no matter how much we humans may like a light show, it’s always important to look out for signs our dogs might not be having such a good time.

If you’re preparing to have your own fireworks event or just want to be ready for the season, here are our pet experts’ tips on how to prepare your pooch and keep them calm during fireworks.

Why is my dog scared of fireworks?

As a pet parent, you’ll know the signs of stress in your pet, but all dogs react differently. Even if your dog usually seems relaxed, it’s still a good idea to be prepared and stay close by in case you need to calm your dog during fireworks.

The loud bangs and sudden flashes of fireworks can be frightening for dogs, who have much more sensitive ears than we do. However, some may be more scared than others – and according to research, this could be due to a number of possible reasons:

  • experiences as a puppy – your dog may have negative associations with loud noises
  • stress levels – fireworks may scare your dog more if they have a nervous disposition
  • age – older dogs lose the ability to hear higher-frequency sounds, making loud bangs more frightening to them.



What should I do before any fireworks start?

The run-up to fireworks season can be worrying for pet parents, particularly if you have a new puppy or a nervous pooch. But a bit of preparation can help calm your dog during fireworks.

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Desensitise your dog

Desensitisation is the process of getting your pet used to loud noises, so they won’t be scared when fireworks start for real. Simply play the sound of fireworks for a few minutes every day – for example, through YouTube videos on your TV. So long as your dog doesn’t show any signs of stress, you can steadily increase the volume over a period of weeks.


Create a ‘safe space’ for your dog

Find a quiet area in your home where your dog can hide if they feel scared of fireworks. This can simply be a table or your dog’s crate, covered with blankets to block out the sound and flashes of fireworks. Make it comfortable and put some toys in, and let your dog get used to it over a few weeks so they know it’s there and it’s safe. When fireworks start, don’t shut your dog in – let them choose where they want to be.

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Secure your house and garden

If your dog gets scared by fireworks, it’s possible they could try to run off. To keep them safe, shut all your doors and windows before any fireworks start. If people are going to be coming in and out of your house, let them know they should do it quickly and keep your dog away from external doors. Check your garden, too – it’s easy for small pets to squeeze through a hole in the fence.

Make sure your dog is microchipped

In the worst-case scenario that your dog does get out, having a microchip makes it much easier for you to be reunited. It’s been a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped since 2016, so make sure yours is – and that their microchip details are up to date.

Buy dog calming products

There are a whole range of products designed to calm your dog during fireworks or when you’re away, such as plug-in pheromone diffusers. Try a few different kinds before any fireworks start, so you can see what works best for your pet. Read our article on products to help calm your dog to learn more.

Check when fireworks displays are on

Although your neighbours might decide to set off fireworks any evening, it’s still a good idea to look up when there are any local displays so you can plan ahead of time. For most of the year, it’s illegal to set off fireworks after 11pm, but this extends to midnight on Bonfire Night and 1am on New Year’s Eve.

Change your dog’s routine

It’s best to keep your dog indoors during fireworks, which might mean a change of routine in the run-up to Bonfire Night. Before it gets dark, take your dog for a long walk. This will tire them out before any fireworks start, so they shouldn’t have too much extra energy. You may want to feed them a little earlier than usual, too – if they get scared, it can put them off their food. Then, take your dog out for their final toilet walk after the fireworks have stopped.


How can I calm my dog during fireworks?

If your pet is panicking, don’t worry. There’s plenty you can do to calm your dog during fireworks.


  • Put your TV or radio on
    The sound can muffle the bangs of fireworks – especially if you turn up the bass on your speakers, because the low-pitch frequencies can compete with the noise outside. You could also try a white noise machine or a dog anxiety playlist, like FRONTLINE®’s Pawfect Playlist for Dogs.

  • Close your windows and curtains
    It’s not just the noise of fireworks that frightens dogs – the bright flashing lights can also startle them. Block them out by shutting your windows and curtains, and leave your indoor lights on to dull the sudden flashes.

  • Distract your dog
    A chew toy can keep your dog busy while there are fireworks outside. You can also try playing with your pet, but don’t worry if they don’t want to join in. Make sure they have plenty of toys nearby so they can play if they want to.


  • Shut your dog in one room
    If your dog becomes stressed during fireworks, they might try to get out of the room they’re shut in – possibly hurting themselves or damaging things in the process. Although it’s good to provide your dog with a ‘safe space’, they might feel more comfortable in their usual spot or with you, so give them full access to all their usual areas of the house.


  • Act differently
    If you’re trying to calm your dog during fireworks, you need to stay calm yourself. Dogs can easily pick up on human emotions and may become more nervous or confused if you behave differently. Ignore the fireworks and act normally – smothering your pet with affection or getting angry at them will make them more stressed.


My dog is still stressed – what should I do?

If you’ve tried everything you can to calm your dog during fireworks without any luck, speak to your vet. They may be able to help with medication or behavioural treatment to reduce your dog’s anxiety.

We hope this advice will help you and your pet have a safe Bonfire Night. Take a look at our dog advice pages for more tips from our pet experts.

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