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Firework season can cause our dogs to become stressed or scared, but what signs should you look out for in order to tell your dog is feeling anxious?

1. Panting
The ‘usual’ case of panting occurs after you’ve been on a long walk with your pooch or if they are trying to cool down or catch their breath. However, dogs also pant when they are fearful, stressed or anxious, something they do which they cannot control. If you notice your dog is panting during fireworks or other stressful situations, try to remove them from the situation and act as you usually would. You may be able to calm them down by giving simple commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘liedown’ and rewarding them for this.
2. Flattened ears
Many dogs will attempt to flatten their ears to try to block out frightening sounds. If you notice your dog doing this, try to put them at ease by stroking them as you usually would and putting a lightweight blanket loosely around their head to cover their ears, this will ease the sound around them.
3. Abnormal Behaviour
As we get to know our dogs, we get to know their behavior – where they like to sleep, what they do at certain times of the day and what toys they like to play with. However, when our dogs are fearful or stressed, they can act out of character and behave unusually. If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior during fireworks or any other stressful situations, try to remove them from the situation and comfort them as you usually would. For example, my dog used to hate having a bath and refuse to enter the bathroom at all costs! However during firework displays we would find him lying on the bathroom floor on his own – a sure sign he was scared!
4. Tail between legs
A common sign to tell that your dog is scared is if they tuck their tail between their legs. This is their attempt at trying to make themselves as small as possible to escape the frightening situation.
5. Lip licking
Dogs may lick their lip or drool when they are scared or anxious. They usually lick their lips when they feel stressed or scared about something around them in which they perceive to be a threat. A good way to calm your dog down if your notice them doing this is to do the ‘command & reward’ gesture.
6. Trembling/shaking
Dogs tremble when they are cold but also when they are feeling anxious. If your dog is not cold and is trembling, it’s likely that they are stressed or scared. If this is something that happens regularly during noticeable times of the year, you can prepare your dog to be calmer a couple of weeks in advance by giving them calming supplements in the build-up to the event that makes them stressed or scared. Valerian compound by Dorwest is a good supplement to calm your dog whilst keeping them alert.
7. Tail wagging
The biggest misconception with dogs is that tail wagging means they are happy. This is not always the case and in fact, tail wagging can mean that a dog is stressed, in pain or a warning that they are about to attack. If your dog suddenly becomes energetic with tail wagging (sometimes paired with panting or dilated pupils) in an unusual situation, it probably means they are scared, stressed or in pain. The best way to calm them down is to act as you usually would, and again, removing them from the situation if possible. If not possible, try a simple command such as ‘sit’ and reward them with their favourite treat!
8. Dilated pupils
When scared, some dog’s pupils will dilate. This is an involuntary physical symptom in which they are unable to control. If your notice that your dog’s pupils have dilated, act as you normally would and try to tell them simple command and reward them for this. Calmly present them with a familiar toy, this will help to reassure them and calm them down.

If your dog is showing any of the signs above, have a read of our previous blog to find out how to keep your pets calm during fireworks and other stressful times of the year.

In the worst case scenario during times of stress or anxiety, dogs can act out of character and run away. In order to have the best chances of being reunited, make sure that your contact details linking to their microchip are updated. You can do this by contacting the registered pet database or signing up with PetScanner where updating you contacting details is free. With PetScanner, if your pet’s microchip is scanned, you will instantly get notified of who scanned your pet and where they scanned them, so you can instantly reunite with your beloved pet! For more details visit www.petscanner.com and grab your scanner today to register your pet.

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