Read our ultimate guide to using Dogrobes as a calming coat to calm your dog during fireworks season.
Fireworks displays can be a source of great excitement and joy for humans, but for our furry friends, they can often be a source of overwhelming stress and anxiety. If you've ever seen your pup cowering under the bed or pacing frantically on Bonfire Night, you know just how distressing it can be. But don’t worry, there are things you can do to help your dog feel calm and relaxed during fireworks, including using your Dogrobe as a calming coat.
In this guide, we will explore how to keep your pup calm during fireworks using a dog robe as well as some other simple solutions. We also spoke to a veterinarian, Neil McIntosh BVM&S MRCVS, for some expert advice.
Say goodbye to those stressful evenings and hello to a happier, calmer pup!
Understanding why fireworks can be stressful for dogs
Before we dive into how to use a Dogrobe as a calming coat, it's important to understand why fireworks can be so stressful for dogs. Dogs have a heightened sense of hearing, which means that the loud bangs and explosions from fireworks can be incredibly overwhelming.
The unpredictable nature of fireworks also doesn’t help. Dogs have no idea when and how often these strange, loud noises are going to come, or where they are coming from. Not to mention, the bright lights and strong smells can be confusing and disorienting for dogs as well.
How to tell if your dog is anxious
If your dog is scared of fireworks, they may bark excessively or whimper at the sound of them. But not all signs of distress will be as obvious as this. The fear and anxiety dogs experience during fireworks can cause them to act out in ways they normally wouldn't. They may try to escape or hide, or even become destructive. It's important to recognise these behaviours and take steps to help your dog feel calm and safe during fireworks.
We asked Neil for his advice on noticing the subtler signs of anxiety in dogs.
“Anxiety can result in the classic ‘fight or flight’ response in dogs and this is usually obvious, with individuals hiding, vocalising, shaking and seeking comfort from owners. But there is another possible outcome, and that is ‘freeze’. Owners of these dogs may believe they are unperturbed, but they are actually churning inside. Other less apparent signs include gulping, yawning, drooling, lip licking, increased heart rate and, of course, destructive behaviour."
What is a calming coat for dogs?
A calming coat is also known as an anxiety wrap or anti-anxiety vest. It works by applying gentle pressure to your dog's body, providing them with comfort and security during stressful situations such as fireworks. The pressure applied by the coat has a similar effect to swaddling a baby, helping to soothe and calm your pup's nervous system.
With the right guidance and a little bit of patience, you can effectively use a Dogrobe as a calming coat to help your pup stay calm and relaxed during fireworks. We will walk you through the steps to introduce and properly fit the calming coat, as well as provide tips on how to create a calm and safe environment for your dog during fireworks.
Common misconceptions about calming coats and fireworks anxiety in dogs
There are several common misconceptions about calming coats and fireworks anxiety in dogs. One of the biggest misconceptions is that dogs will simply ‘get used to’ fireworks over time. However, this may not be the case. For some dogs, the anxiety and stress caused by fireworks may actually worsen over time.
Another misconception is that calming coats are only effective for dogs with severe anxiety. However, calming coats can be effective for dogs of all ages and breeds, and can be used as a preventative measure to reduce anxiety before it becomes a problem.
Choosing the right calming coat for your dog
When it comes to choosing a calming coat for your dog, there are several options on the market. However, not all calming coats are created equal. It's important to choose a coat that fits your dog properly and provides the right amount of pressure.
The Dogrobe is a 3-in-1 dog drying coat and calming coat that dries, warms and comforts dogs. Designed specifically with dogs in mind, it’s made from soft, comfortable, lightweight fabric that’s easily tolerated, which means it’s even great for dogs who don’t usually like wearing coats.
We have three different ranges of Dogrobes – the Dogrobe Original, Dogrobe MAX and Exclusive Collection Dogrobe – and all work just as well as the other at calming your dog, so choose the style you like best for your dog, available in a range of colours and patterns and a size to suit every breed.
The benefits of using a Dogrobe as a calming coat for dogs during fireworks
Using a Dogrobe as a calming coat for dogs has many benefits. First and foremost, it helps to reduce anxiety and stress in dogs by creating a feeling of comfort and security.
Dogrobes use ties rather than velcro to secure the dog coat on your dog's body. This means you get the perfect fit every time and can tie the Dogrobe really close to your dog's body. The Dogrobe hugs the dog’s body and provides a constant source of gentle pressure, which helps to calm their nervous system and reduce anxiety by stimulating the release of hormones called endorphins. This can help to reduce barking, whining and destructive behaviour.
Neil the vet spoke to us about some of the evidence to support this idea, “While there is little scientific research on the benefits of relatively tightly fitting ‘vests’, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the ‘hug’ effect they produce is real and beneficial. Research in 2014 by King showed a reduction in heart rate in dogs that wore a tight vest.”
Introducing your dog to the dog robe before fireworks night
If you already own and use a Dogrobe for your dog, you know that they love it already! This means there’ll be no stress when it comes to putting their Dogrobe on to calm them during fireworks. Your dog will already associate their dog robe with positive experiences.
If you’re buying a Dogrobe for the first time to help with your dog’s firework anxiety, then it's important to introduce them to it under normal circumstances first. This will help your dog feel comfortable wearing the coat and will ensure that they don’t associate it with negative experiences. If you only bring the Dogrobe out to calm them during stressful situations, this is what they will associate the calming coat with.
Neil McIntosh confirmed, “It is important that the Dogrobe is not just used for the bad times but that the dog is allowed to become acclimatised to it by using it repeatedly when in an enjoyable environment. This will help with the calming effect.”
To introduce your dog to the Dogrobe, start by letting them sniff it and investigate it. Once they're comfortable with it, try putting it on them for short periods of time after wet walks. Reward them with treats and praise for wearing it.
Proper fitting and wearing of a Dogrobe as a calming coat
Proper fitting of the Dogrobe is essential for it to work effectively. Luckily, it’s nice and easy to fit. Just follow these simple steps:
- Pop the Dogrobe over your dog’s head
- Straighten it out over their back
- Draw the ties up on each side of their body
- Tie in a single loop on either side of their spine
The coat should fit snugly around the dog's body, but not too tight. We recommend not leaving your dog alone when wearing the Dogrobe to ensure that they're comfortable and to make sure they don’t chew the robe.
Using a dog robe in combination with other calming methods
While a Dogrobe can be incredibly effective in reducing anxiety and stress in dogs during fireworks, it's important to use it in combination with other calming methods. This can include things like playing calming music or white noise to help drown out the sound of the fireworks, or turning the TV up louder than usual if this is a sound they are already used to in the evenings.
Your dog may want to sit and stay with you, or they may want to hide away somewhere they feel safe. In case they do, it’s a good idea to create a safe and secure space for your dog to hide. Whether that’s in a crate or under the bed, for example, you can make that space extra comfy with some blankets or duvets, and keep them happy with their favourite toys and treats.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise that day and try to keep them mentally stimulated at home, too. Play with them, give them positive attention, provide them with lots of toys, and even things like puzzle balls to keep them occupied.
Using a Snood to calm your dog during fireworks
As well as the Dogrobe, our Snoods can also help to calm your dog. According to Neil the vet, this is due to a number of reasons.
“Firstly, the pressure exerted contributes towards a calming ‘hug’ effect, where chemicals called endorphins are released, which promote a feeling of well-being.” Just like using a Dogrobe or a calming coat.
“Secondly, the sudden, frightening sounds of fireworks are reduced in volume, as the snood covers the ears. Thirdly, alarming flashes of light can be hidden by pulling the snood over the eyes.” So, the frightening sights and sounds of fireworks become less scary for the dog, as well as producing feelings of comfort and security thanks to the hugging nature of the Snood.
Neil also added, “Many owners will have found that stroking a dog’s head firmly and slowly is calming, whereas a quick pat is stimulating. Let the snood do the patting for you!”
Like our Dogrobes, Snoods are available in a range of colours and sizes to suit all breeds. You can even get one to match your Dogrobe! The size Snood you need is usually the same as the size of your Dogrobe, but if you want the Snood to sit snugly over the head rather than the neck to help cover the ears and muffle the sound, it is definitely worth dropping down a size compared to your Dogrobe.
Calming scents to use during fireworks
Scent therapy can also be beneficial for calming dogs during fireworks. You can try products like Pet Remedy Calming Spray to see if they have a positive effect on your dog. Neil explained the benefits of calming scents further as well as the different types of scents that might help.
“We already know the benefits of ‘dog appeasing pheromone’, which is the substance produced by lactating bitches that makes puppies feel comfortable and secure. This is available in a variety of forms and can really help with anxiety generally; research carried out by Giussani in 2014 suggested a 50% reduction in fearful behaviour.”
“Some studies suggest that other smells, such as lavender and chamomile, can have a relaxing effect. In a 2005 study by Graham, for example, involving dogs who were afraid of travelling, both these scents resulted in more resting and less moving, while rosemary and peppermint had the opposite effect. Individual dogs may have their favourite smell!”
Just like the Dogrobe and Snood, it is important to introduce any calming scents before stressful events like Bonfire Night to make sure the scent is associated with positive and neutral situations rather than just stressful ones.
You can read our blogfrom last year for even more ideas to help you keep your pup calm during fireworks.
Keeping your dog safe on bonfire night
Any night you’d expect fireworks to be going off, including New Year’s Eve as well as Bonfire Night, you can take some measures to make sure your dog remains safe even with their unpredictable behaviour.
Make sure you take them out on their walks during the day before it gets dark to avoid being outdoors when fireworks start. Obviously you can’t predict their toilet habits, but let them out plenty of times before it gets dark to make it less likely they’ll need to go during the fireworks. And it’ll be less likely there’ll be any accidents inside if they’re too nervous to go outside!
As well as keeping them inside as much as possible, make sure your house and garden are properly secured to prevent them from escaping if they hit that fight or flight mode. In the unlikely event they do escape, it’simportant that your dog is microchipped and wearing their collar with identifying tags, even if they don’t usually wear their collar indoors.
Helping your pup stay calm and safe during fireworks
With the right tools and techniques, you can help your pup stay calm and safe during fireworks displays. Using a Dogrobe as a calming coat can be incredibly effective in reducing anxiety and stress in dogs during fireworks.
Neil added his concluding advice on this topic, “It is very worthwhile consulting your vet to discuss systematic desensitisation techniques, counterconditioning, and medical strategies that are appropriate for your dog’s level of stress. Dealing with noise and firework phobias often requires a multi-pronged approach. Research by Crowell and Davis in 2003 showed that using a combination of different techniques produced the best effect.”
So, remember to properly fit and introduce the Dogrobe to your dog before using it during fireworks, and use it in combination with other calming techniques for maximum effectiveness. With a little bit of patience and guidance, you can help your pup feel calm and relaxed during fireworks displays.