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Keep your dog safe during fireworks

Derry City and Strabane District Council is aware that although Halloween has passed there are still occasions when people are using fireworks.  Coronavirus restrictions and cancelled organised events have led to a significant increase in the number of private firework displays in people’s gardens.  With the exception of Halloween and New Year’s Celebrations there is unfortunately no pattern to when and where fireworks are presently being set off so we can only provide general advice.  

Thousands of animals are affected by unplanned and random fireworks each year.  Research from the RSPCA indicate that around 62% of dogs, 54% of cats and 55% of horses show signs of distress during fireworks.  Farm animals and wildlife are also affected.  Farm animals are easily frightened by loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light, which can startle and cause them to injure themselves on fencing and farm equipment.  Fireworks are also highly disturbing to some birds and have caused the abandonment of nests or even whole colonies.

In the event of hearing fireworks dogs should ideally be kept inside and the back yard gates or doors made secure. Council endorses the Dogs Trust’s 5 Top Tips for fireworks.

How to prepare your dog before fireworks begin

Walk your dog before dark – make sure your dog is well exercised and has had a toilet break before the fireworks begin.

Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as he may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.

Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks as fear may make your dog try to escape.

Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar safe surroundings it will help him cope with the noise.

Provide a safe hiding place – at noisy times around Halloween and New Year’s nights, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table. Close the curtains, turn the lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises.

How to help your dog during fireworks

Don't punish your dog for cowering or reacting to the fireworks as this will intensify his fear. You should aim to remain relaxed and therefore provide a good role model to your dog when he is afraid. However, if your dog comes to you for comfort don't ignore him – interact with him calmly.

Don't leave your dog alone in the house during the fireworks period – he may panic and this could result in an injury.

Keep your dog busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep his mind off the noises. However, if he just wants to hide away then don't force him to come out of his hiding place, allow him to stay where he feels safe.

Please help us spread the word on social media by sharing the Firework Dog Code using the hashtag #FireworkDogCode; which also provides useful tips for dogs owners whose dogs have a fear of loud noises and need longer term treatment. 

For further advice please check the Dogs Trust Website  https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/advice-for-owners/fireworks