Bonfire night, new years and any other times where fireworks are involved can be a frightening time for Labrador Retrievers and all dogs, big and small, but there are things you can do to keep them safe and calm during fireworks season.
If you are unsure how your Labrador Retriever will cope with the loud bangs and flashes yet, perhaps you have a Labrador puppy who hasn't yet seen or heard there first firework, then it's always good to be prepared in case they are not happy.
Here are our top tips for ensuring your dogs safety during fireworks:
Make sure your dog is microchipped
This is most important - if all preventative measures fail and somehow your Labrador manages to escape your property, having them microchipped with all your information up-to-date, plus a collar with ID tag (required by law!) is going to give you the best chances of reuniting quickly and easily. We also recommend, if you know your dog to be particularly skittish around fireworks, getting a Light up Dog Collar and have your Labrador wear it on nights where you know fireworks will be happening. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Make sure your dog is indoors
This may seem obvious, but far too many people who thought their dog was okay around fireworks have ended up with an escapee, and an unexpected run around the estate at midnight. Even if your dog has been perfectly fine before, keep them inside, and make sure any dog walks are done during the day well in advance.
Having the TV or radio on can help muffle the sound of fireworks. Playing, training and other positive distractions can also help your Labrador to focus on something other than the noises around them.
Your dog will feel any tension and stress you have, so remain calm and do not react to the fireworks in a negative way yourself. Watching fireworks within eyeshot of your pup may make them believe that you are concerned about the noise and the lights, and therefore they should be too. It goes without saying that no matter how your dog responds in this time, do not shout or punish them for their behaviour - it will only cement in their minds that fireworks are bad. On the other hand, try not to cuddle and pamper to them above what you would normally do either, as this may also lead them to thing that you are worried.
Let them work it out
Allow your dog to pace around, whine and/or hide if they want to. It's important that Labrador Retrievers find a safe space if they need it. Placing some popular toys and items of your clothing (for the scent) or blankets in their usual hiding spots or any potential spots may help too. Dogs when frightened like to feel enclosed for protection and may hide in tighter spots such as under a bed or behind a sofa.
Do your research
Find out if there are any planned fireworks events nearby and when they are on. Speak with neighbours (nicely!) about your dog and ask them to either avoid having personal fireworks, or to let you know when they plan on letting them off so you can be prepared.
Speak to your vet
If nothing else seems to help and your poor Labrador is severely affected by fireworks, it may be time to speak to your vet who may be able to recommend further steps, such as pheromones which cause a calming affect. Sound therapy can be another option. Always speak to your vet before starting any such treatments. Remember any treatments may take time to have an affect, so try to visit your vet 6+ weeks before firework night.
And finally, an important reminder that fireworks are poisonous if chewed and/or eaten, so make sure your dog stays away from them.