Dogs Trust and University of Salford offer advice for dog owners in the run up to bonfire night

Categories: Research, School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Ahead of upcoming firework festivities, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity has issued advice to owners on how to take care of their canine friends, with one in three owners from a recent survey looking to seek advice around firework related behaviour.

A new study by experts at the University of Salford has also affirmed that dogs are sensitive to a greater range of firework noise sound than first thought, confirming it’s best to keep dogs indoors during fireworks to limit distress for our four-legged friends and keep them safe.

Dogs Trust recommends that dog owners prepare early and urges owners to visit its website for full guidance on how to help dogs stay safe and settled during fireworks.

Jenna Kiddie, Head of Behaviour at Dogs Trust said:

“Fear of fireworks is worryingly common in dogs of all ages, and it can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and affect dogs at any time in their lives.

“Dogs respond to fireworks in a range of different ways, so it’s crucial to have a clear plan, ahead of time, to help your own dog cope. Some dogs will want to find a cosy hiding place, others will want reassurance. If your dog does seem worried, it’s worth distracting them with a game or treats to keep their attention away from the noises outside. Owners can visit the Dogs Trust website for top tips on what to do when fireworks have started.”

Top tips on days when owners expect fireworks:

  • Dogs Trust recommends owners stay in with their dog. Dogs may panic if left alone, so having their owner or someone they know and trust for company will help them relax. 
  • Don’t go out after dark. Make sure your dog is cosy inside and settled well before any fireworks start. They should have a safe space or ‘doggy den’ to retreat to if they choose. Never force a dog outside during fireworks. 
  • If your dog has shown signs of fear towards fireworks, reach out to your vet for advice, and give the dog any prescribed medication before fireworks start, it might be that vets can prescribe last minute medication to help your dog cope, if necessary.
  • Owners should check that their house and garden are escape-proof. Dogs could try to run away if they’re scared so check doors, windows and fences are secure.

Industry Collaboration Fellow Zuzanna Podwinska from the University of Salford said:

Our research suggests that dogs may be more sensitive to low frequency booms and vibration than previously thought. Unfortunately, it is difficult to reduce these kinds of sounds coming into the home. We plan to look at how effective ‘doggy dens’ might be in the future to evaluate how they might protect against the kinds of sounds that are associated with distress responses. However, the most effective way to reduce exposure is to be far enough away from firework displays for the overall sound levels to be reduced or for displays to avoid the kinds of fireworks that produce low frequency booms. As such, dog owners should follow the advice to protect their pets but they should be aware that their pets may still show signs of distress over the fireworks season.”

Dogs Trust tips for when the fireworks events have started:

  • Close curtains, turn on the lights and turn on the television or some music to help block out the outside noise.
  • Recognise the needs of the individual dog and let them choose if they want to hide.
  • Check on the dog regularly to make sure they are coping. Give them comfort if they are seeking reassurance; leave them if they choose to hide in their ‘doggy den’.
  • Try and stay calm and relaxed yourself.
  • Dogs Trust advice on fireworks

The charity also recommends noting down how your dog reacted during the fireworks and what worked well to help them cope. It also advises returning to a normal routine to help dogs settle down. If they were worried during fireworks, it is a good idea to seek professional help before the next firework season starts.

Dogs Trust recommends dog owners to seek veterinary advice for any concerns. They can check if there are any contributing medical problems, and if necessary, refer you to a clinical behaviourist.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.