Bonfire Night with numerous firework displays can be an evening full of terror for dogs. Unfortunately, the anxiety isn't just isolated to one night either, as the festivities can go on for weeks. Our friends at Your Dog magazine have come up with some great tips to keep your dogs safe. With a bit of planning, preparation, and consideration, there are several ways we can help our pets cope.
- Make a den that your dog can retreat to if he feels anxious. Drape a blanket over a crate or low coffee table and fill it with a soft bed, his favourite toys, and a piece of clothing that smells like you.
- Distraction could be key. Try having the radio or TV on louder than usual to drown out the loud wizz, pops, and bangs outside.
- Speak to your neighbours and ask them whether they have any plans to set off any fireworks, or find out where displays are taking place in your local area. Make sure that you are at home on these evenings so you can provide comfort.
- Give your dog a good walk just before dusk. Not only will you be avoiding firework prime time, but it will also give your dog a chance to relieve himself, as he may be too scared to go into the garden later on. A walk will also make him more sleepy and relaxed in the evening.
- Loud bangs are bad enough, but being able to see these explosions of colour in the sky may just tip your dog over the edge, so make sure you draw your curtains before the fireworks begin.
- Give him a stuffed Kong filled with tasty treats — this could be a combination of his favourite dog biscuits, cheese, ham, and hot dog sausage.
- Comfort your dog, but don't overdo it. You don't want your dog to think that you are worried about fireworks too. Let him sit with you if that's what he wants to do, but don't make a big fuss.
- Don't forget the other pets! If you have cats, make sure they are also locked in the house for the evening, and consider bringing any other small animals inside too.
- Always think ahead! If you know that your dog is scared of fireworks, and he has had bad experiences in the past, it may be worth investing in a qualified behaviourist to help tackle the problem. To find a behaviourist in your area, visit www.apbc.org.uk
- Don't assume that your garden is secure and escape proof. A scared dog may try to run away as he has no idea where the loud noises are coming from. This means that it is also important to make sure your dog has an ID tag on his collar and, of course, is microchipped.
- Don't use Bonfire Night as a training opportunity to make your dog face up to his fear of loud noises — this will only make things worse. It's best to get him used to loud noises before the night.
- Don't take your dog to a firework display — even dogs who have had no problem with them before may suddenly become terrified with them being in such close proximity.
Spot the signs! There are some subtle signs you need to look out for which may indicate that your dog is becoming stressed:
- Lip licking
- Lack of appetite
- Chewing paws/furniture
*Your Dog Magazine is Britain's best-selling dog magazine. Published monthly for dog lovers, covering everything you need to know on caring for, understanding, and enjoying your dog. It is available from most grocery stores, including Tesco, Sainsbury's, and Morrisons, independent newsagents, or from the online shop. For more information, visit www.yourdog.co.uk