The Territory is special from other parts of Australia in that fireworks are still permitted once a year on Cracker Night (Territory Day, July 1). While many people think this is fantastic fun, for most animals, especially dogs, the experience is terrifying and sometimes dangerous. We are often busy at the clinic on Cracker Night dealing with a number of injured pets.
It may seem odd to us humans that dogs find fireworks so terrifying. One major difference between us and dogs is that we primarily experience the world through our eyes. Dogs on the other hand have relatively poor eyesight, and use their ears and nose much more than us. Instead of seeing fireworks as pretty colours, they simply hear lots of loud unexplained bangs, with a strong strange smell of gunpowder. No wonder itís terrifying for them. Many dogs work themselves up into a panic over cracker night and may injure themselves trying to escape from the terrifying noises.
The question is what you can do to protect your pet when they are so afraid.
Ideally spend the night supervising your dog, If they show signs of fear donít reassure them as this only reinforces their panic. Instead try distracting them, give them some thing to eat, play a game with them. Let them know everything is normal and the noises are nothing to be afraid of.
If you are not able to spend the night with your dog, securely lock them up in a dark, comforting, escape proof area. Never leave a dog chained or tied up unattended because they may choke or hang themselves in their panic. Make sure your dog has identification, such as a microchip or collar and tag, so that if they do escape and are found they can be returned to you more easily.
There are a number of effective long term treatments available for dogs with phobias of fireworks or thunderstorms, including behavioural training and medication. Have a chat to one of our staff members if you would like further advice on helping your pet through Cracker Night.