Dog owners fret about fireworks as displays move from parks to private gardens in the wake of Covid-19

  • New data from The Kennel Club shows more than 1 in 5 Brits plan to host or attend private fireworks display this year
  • Two thirds say their dog experiences anxiety and fear during fireworks season
  • Fear about impact private displays will have on pandemic puppies, who have lacked normal socialisation routines

New research from The Kennel Club has found that more than 70% of dog owners are worried about the possibility of fireworks moving closer to home and causing anxiety to their pets. Although fireworks celebrations are set to look very different this year with public displays banned due to Covid-19 restrictions, they will remain a cause for distress for pets and animals across the country.

More than 2 in 3 dog owners who took part in the survey said that they notice a change in their dog’s behaviour during fireworks, including showing signs of anxiety and fear. With almost a quarter (23%) of people saying they plan to attend or host a private fireworks display this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, many owners worry about their dog’s reaction to the big bang right next door.

Private fireworks displays are also less predictable than publicly organised ones, which means dog walkers might be surprised by celebrations in otherwise quiet areas. The Kennel Club has been campaigning for years for tougher restrictions on fireworks displays and calling for a mandatory local authority permit scheme for private displays, and limits on the maximum decibel levels of fireworks, to protect the health and welfare of dogs across the UK.

Fireworks are frightening for dogs for various reasons, including the loud noises, strong smell of explosives and flashing lights. This combination makes many dogs stressed and unpredictable, which can put their safety at risk. Dog owners are usually familiar with their dog’s reaction to fireworks and take precautions, but with the unprecedented demand for puppies during the pandemic, there are now thousands of new dog owners with young puppies who have probably never experienced fireworks before.

Getting a puppy through their very first fireworks season is yet another issue that those who bought a dog during lockdown are faced with. Previous research by The Kennel Club indicate a quarter of ‘pandemic puppy’ owners are already concerned about their puppy’s socialisation and behaviour that might have resulted from a lack of training due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at The Kennel Club said: “Fireworks displays can be very distressing for many dogs, causing changes to their behaviour. Each dog reacts differently and it is important that dog owners, especially those with young puppies, know what to do and how they can help their dogs get through the fireworks season.”

The Kennel Club has provided advice for dog owners to help their dog cope during fireworks:

  • Get them used to the sounds of fireworks by playing them fireworks sounds in the weeks leading up to the night
  • Shut all the doors and windows and keep your curtains closed to block the flashing lights
  • Make a safe space for your dog filled with their favourite toys and blankets
  • Distract your dog by having the TV or radio switched on
  • Reward their calm behaviour with treats or playing
  • Keep your dog’s microchip details up to date to make it easier to reunite you with your dog in case it runs away

For more information and advice on how to make sure dogs are safe and comfortable during the fireworks season, visit The Kennel Club website.