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How To Help Dogs Feel Calm With Fireworks & Storms

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Fireworks & Storms

I expect we will start to see more of them in the coming years but what do we do with our pups...?! The ideal reaction is for your puppy to not even notice they exist and continue to go about their normal business, have dinner, play, poop and sleep. But some of the bangs are just impossible to ignore and especially for those puppy’s experiencing fireworks or storms for the first time. To start with let’s set our pups up for success and just close the curtains early, maybe turn the tv up alittle louder and continue to go about our normal routine. If your doggy barks at the bangs you can practice your ‘Leave’ and pick up a toy to play or do some basic training... try to be more interesting to interact with then the fireworks or storms. If your doggy runs away to hide or is showing fear, try to entice them into play or practice a ‘watch me’ or ‘paw’ before they get too scared. You want your voice and body language to remain calming and unalarming, ideally you want to remain in their eye line and keep their gaze through focus work offering really yummy treats like liver cake chicken or cheese. try just sitting on the floor and giving pup some time to think with you near by waiting for a gentle cuddle and maybe a couple of kisses followed by some playtime, continuing to play with them is very important.

So what do you do when the storm happens in the middle of the night and your pup is downstairs? If its their first time keep all eyes and ears open for puppy’s reaction if any. If you hear your puppy go down and wait for them to be quiet for 1 second before you enter the room and go about a normal task right away, such as the washing up or boiling the kettle, the noise and your presence may be enough to help calm them down. Get ready for a bang and flash by picking up a toy and playing with your pup or doing basic training until they no longer show the noise any attention and then you can pop them to bed as you would normally and leave, if they whine after that you can try shouting, in a firm but calm voice, verbal commands (out of sight) such as ‘nooooo go lay down’ or ’leave it, go lay down’ you can help this by practicing a ‘go lay down’ command in your every day training or if you have worked with separation training.

Because you know fireworks and thunderstorms will happen at some point you can also proactively play these sounds at a distance or quietly and slowly increase the noise continuing to do all or any of the things mentioned above so that your puppy gets used to hearing them well in advance and in a way that you can control.

There are some calming plug ins, sprays and other products available but you shouldn’t need them to start your puppy off on their journey, think of them like a candle lit bubble bath…. If you where going to be very relaxed in your bath and then startled…. You would maybe shout something like ‘what the @*%^!’ Then when you see it was just your husband doing some DIY which you know is only partially scary then you can go back to relaxing in your bubble bath. So they only do so much and won’t fix a problem however doing some work before the fireworks on focus activities and controlled exposure can help.

Sadly there is not a one size fits all so these are just some things you can try knowing that you are helping your doggy as best you can to ignore those noises, you will have to use your initiative as to when to use any tip mentioned.

Try not to wait for your dog to choose how to react but rather show them from the start. If you have an older dog or your pup is being very fearful you may wish to seek the advice of a behaviourist like myself to correctly tackle the problem before it escalates.

Remember your very basic training and revert back to that if you struggle to get your pups attention, keep your training circle small and your activity fun and engaging. You wont have to do this every time you hear a bang but if you put in the hard work now, later on you can relax with a dog that’s unfazed by the big bangs in our world.

Best of luck and get in touch if you have questions, have fun and enjoy the time you spend with your pup.

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