Most dogs will cope with a degree of stress in their lives. Sometimes however a dog will have an experience that goes beyond that, such as a firework exploding too close to it. This can result in dogs acquiring a condition akin to PTSD in humans. Thereafter, they are unable to cope with even a normal amount of stress. Dogs will recover to varying degrees after the firework season but they remain sensitised to loud and sudden noises - even if that noise is far away. The dog's ability to cope is now compromised and the only option may be to retire the dog.
Eoin Slattery, Technical Training Manager, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind says, "Our advice to our clients is to keep their dogs away from the front door and windows and play music and background noise to help them to keep calm. Many good pet stores sell products which will help to relieve stress and induce calmness."
Tips to protect your dog
Dogs do not like fireworks, so ensure to get plenty of exercise before dark – ideally during school hours or at meal times. This will minimise the exposure and tire the dog so that they will be more relaxed and more likely to sleep through the evening.
After dark dogs should be kept indoors as much as possible.
Confine pets to the general living areas rather than quieter areas such as hallways or bedrooms.
Leave the radio and TV on to drown out some of the external noises. Pull your curtains to help reduce visual exposure to fireworks.
Do not scold or fuss over a nervous dog as this only exacerbates the situation and can reinforce the behaviour.
If a dog is particularly stressed, we recommend treating them with natural remedies available from vets and pharmacies.
Remember, no tricks and no treats for your dog. Chocolate is not safe for your pet so do not share any with the dogs.