December 30, 2021

The best way to manage fireworks freak-outs

The best way to manage fireworks freak-outs
Dr. Chris Brown

The big fireworks booms are coming. But new research has revealed fascinating new ways to manage New Year’s Eve fireworks. And one has been sitting right under our noses…
Fireworks seemingly rank right up there with thunderstorms and vacuum cleaners as the most feared of all sounds. But before the furry family round out the year in a ball of stress, I’m here to help with some tips. And yes, there are some surprises…

A recent study by the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour looked at just about every possible trick or technique. But you’re on holidays and it’s a tough read. So I’ve done the hard work and summarised it all below…


Do some boom-day prep:

Honestly, the biggest problem with fireworks is that they don’t happen every day.

If they were nightly then dogs and cats would be totally cool with them. So you need to desensitise them to the sounds and have them associating them with good things.

So, find ‘fireworks sound effects’ on Spotify or iTunes and start playing them around the house initially at low volume where they won’t cause any worry.

Provided they’re not showing a stress response (flattened ears, side eye, hiding, shaking) then make them sit and give a treat each time a fireworks sound is played AND they’re calm.

Slowly increase the volume over the next day rewarding them for keeping calm. If they stress, lower the volume again and don’t reward. For longer term results, try this over multiple days and weeks.

Then, on the night…follow this cracker of a checklist

  1. Move them inside so they can’t escape

  2. Lower the blinds and start playing music they’re familiar with to block out flashes and sounds

  3. Put on a load of washing to generate white noise and some gentle vibrations

  4. Give treats containing L-theanine at least an hour before the fireworks. So this is the cool part. Research has found that L-theanine (an extract from green tea) that I specifically added to my Calm + Collected treats results in a ‘highly significant reduction in anxiety’ during fireworks and thunderstorms. Yes, help has basically been hiding in a calming cup of tea all this time. But rather than brewing a pot of tea, the treats will be more popular and far cooler in so many ways...

  5. Give more treats just like you did in your ‘boom-day prep’ with each sound and play fun games to distract them.

Calm + Collected
Calm + Collected

Calm + Collected Cat
Calm + Collected Cat

Follow the plan and the whole family will fly through the night without any worries. Talk about ticking off New Year’s resolutions. Your dog will have a belly full of treats and you’ll have remarkably clean clothes. It’s a win/win. Who said NYE needed to be stressful?!

Happy New Year everyone!

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